February 21, 2013
March 28, 2013
NORTH DURHAM: Durham's public elementary and secondary school teachers returned to class this week, days after new contracts were imposed on them by Education Minister Laurel Broten in the latest round of the Bill 115 debacle.
This week, teachers and students headed back to class Monday (Jan. 7) following the Christmas break. The minister announced the new teaching contracts on Jan. 3 before stating that the province would repeal Bill 115, the controversial provincial legislation passed last September that imposed a number of restrictions on Ontario's teachers, including wage freezes and provisions allowing the government to halt strikes.
The new contracts - which will expire in September 2014 (retroactive to September 2012) - will freeze wages for two years, cut sick days to 10 per year and prevent banking of those sick days. Ontario's Catholic teachers reached a similar deal with the province last summer.
The legislation has been the subject of much demonstration by teachers' unions in recent months. Late last year, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario began a series of rotating one-day strikes by its member boards across the province. On Dec. 18, elementary teachers with the Durham District School Board joined many of their peers, including teachers in Toronto and Peel Region, by cancelling classes in protest of the bill. Teachers represented by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) have also embarked upon a work-to-rule campaign, cancelling extra-curricular activities such as sports and arts programs.
Representatives from both elementary and secondary teachers' unions were critical of the minister's Jan. 3 move, describing the announcement as damaging to the relationship between teachers and the government. Members of both unions met this week to discuss their next actions.
"The government has used a hammer to dictate terms of a contract, a hammer that was put in place as early as last February," said ETFO president Sam Hammond. "Ten years of goodwill has been squandered in ten months by this education minister. By saying that she will repeal Bill 115 after using it to trample our rights, the education minister has admitted that the legislation is deeply flawed. Minister Broten will not erase the stain of Bill 115 simply by removing it after it is used."
Added OSSTF president Ken Coran:
"By taking away our right to strike and imposing collective agreements upon our members, the Minister has shown that she has little respect for the rights of education workers, democratically elected school boards of trustees, or the citizens of Ontario. By using the Bill 115 legislation, the government has officially taken away the ability of our members and school boards, our employers, to engage in a free collective bargaining process that has been successful for many years."
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UXBRIDGE: The Supreme Court of Canada's recent decision not to hear an appeal from Scugog and Oshawa in regards to the Deering sisters case recently drew concerns from a pair of veteran Uxbridge Councillors.
At council's meeting on the morning of Monday, Jan. 7, Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor and Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast both spoke out about the recent ruling that left the Township of Scugog and the City of Oshawa each one-third responsible for the Coates Rd. crash that left the sisters paralyzed in August 2004.
"I'm really concerned about the ruling in the Deering case," Councillor Northeast commented. "What is the interpretation of reasonable safety standards for our roads?"
Councillor Northeast went on to question just what increased safety standards may mean for some of Uxbridge's more picturesque roads.
"We're really in big trouble financially and ascetically if we have to change Conc. 6 and 7," she said.
In the wake of the ruling, Township Public Works Director Ben Kester is scheduled to meet with the Region's insurance provider in an effort to gain insight into any changes to municipal operating procedures.
"Be sure to ask the judge if you see him, if he's ever actually driven on a rural road," Mayor O'Connor said.
The mayor went on to question how the municipality is supposed to handle changes to safety on rural roads.
"I don't know how you would mark a gravel road," commented Mayor O'Connor.
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NORTH DURHAM: Two RH Cornish Public School students, both of whom carried out unique fundraisers, were among the many North Durham residents contributing in 2012 to the future construction of a new Scugog-Uxbridge Animal Shelter.
Aiden Wilcox, 12, and Olivia Summerhays, 7, each carried out their own fundraising initiatives for the new shelter, raising close to $700 for the cause. The two students were recently presented with plaques from the committee, commemorating their efforts.
Aiden, who raised several hundred dollars in 2011 for the Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes by vowing to dye his hair bright pink, raised funds in a similar fashion last fall in support of two charities - the new Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Shelter and International Justice Mission, a charity which rescues child and adult slaves around the world.
True to his word, Aiden followed through on a vow to donors in 2011 to dye his hair a colour of their choosing. By popular vote, 'zebra stripes' was the top pick and once again, Aiden headed into Shagg's Hair and Body Works in Port Perry to get a new look.
This past fall, Aiden raised approximately $1,300 for the two causes, donating $500 of that money to the new animal shelter.
According to mom Mary, Aiden started his fundraising initiatives in 2010 with a church campaign called Do a Dare for Africa, where participants 'dare' themselves to take on something outside of their comfort zone - like having pink hair - to raise funds for a worthy cause. Through that pink hair dare, Aiden raised $900 to help with education endeavours in Uganda.
Following a presentation by one of her teachers this past year, Olivia began looking for a way to help out the local shelter and found the answer in artwork. She began painting pictures to sell for charity, eventually totalling $189 from the sales of her art, all of which was donated to the shelter committee.
The two local students said they plan to continue their fundraising efforts for the shelter, with Aiden recently starting a web site for his charitable endeavours at www.campaignchangetheworld.com.
The shelter committee is also receiving plenty of ongoing help from students and staff of North Durham schools through the in-school 'Pennies For Paws' campaign, in which coins (particularly pennies) are being collected to help fund the new facility.
"This is a testament to how good our kids in this community are," said shelter committee member Art Matthews of efforts by youth like Aiden and Olivia. "It's invigorating to see our local youth engaged in such activities and it reflects the community at large."
According to Mr. Matthews, more than $100,000 has been raised in North Durham since the proposal for a new shelter was pitched in January 2011 - approximately one-tenth of the committee's fundraising goals, he said.
Mr. Matthews said the committee's plans for the new year will focus on grant proposals and a major donor campaign, made possible by the committee's recent successful incorporation as a registered charity. He added those plans will roll out over the next three months.
A final architectural design of the new shelter, to be located on a Lakeridge Rd. property in Uxbridge, will also be finalized by March 31, said Mr. Matthews.
A number of fundraising events have also been planned for 2013, said Mr. Matthews. Those include the second annual gala fundraiser on May 4 at Mill Run Golf Club, a June 27 charity golf tournament at Oakridge Golf Club, as well as a Scugog-Uxbridge walkathon and charity bingo (details and dates for those two events are yet to be announced).
Last year's gala raised more than $30,000 for the new shelter, according to a release from the committee.
For more information or to make an on-line donation, visit www.animal-shelter.ca.
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SCUGOG: Scugog Township will move onto the next phase of the Port Perry waterfront revitalization in the near future by preparing for a scheduled clean-up of the Old Mill, in anticipation of the long-standing structure's future use.
Recently, councillors approved a staff recommendation which will see T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. retained to oversee the cleaning of the building's interior, a long-time roost for pigeons, raccoons and other animals. Three companies have expressed interest in bidding on the cleaning contract, said the report.
The cost for retaining the environmental consultant is being capped at $4,400, taxes excluded.
The report explains that the clean-up is required prior to a structural audit of the mill, which will ultimately determine the fate of the building purchased by the township for $1.1 million in 2009.
Community Services director Don Gordon explained that prior to the clean-up, the building will need to be 'enveloped' in a new protective exterior preventing future leaks and animal intrusions. That process could take place concurrently with the hiring of the cleaning contractor, Mr. Gordon said.
Mr. Gordon added that the clean-up would not take place with remaining business tenants still in the building unless they are "comfortable" with the process. During a previous council meeting, Mr. Gordon noted that the manner of the clean-up will determine whether or not tenants can remain in the building during that part of the project.
"The concerns of the tenants are paramount," said Mr. Gordon.
Waterfront project manager Glenn Garwood outlined the importance of the clean-up in the overall waterfront plan.
"There's an opportunity with the mill," said Mr. Garwood. "If it's cleaned up and stabilized, it's an asset that we can lease out and help repay the debt on the building. We can get third parties to help with fixing the roof and walls. Even though there's a cost with the cleanup, it's a downpayment on the repairs.... It creates an incentive for proponents - better to do it first the way we want it done."
So far, $20,000 has been budgeted for the total clean-up (including the hiring of the environmental consultant) and structural audit costs for the mill. Despite concerns from council at previous meetings over potential increases in the cleaning expenses, Mr. Garwood told councillors on Nov. 26 that it's "unlikely" the clean-up and audit would surpass that total, adding that any money remaining from the $20,000 budgeted could be used to defer excess cleaning costs should they occur.
Responding to council inquiries regarding the township's course of action should the clean-up quotes exceed staff estimates, Mr. Gordon said that another option may be to transfer those expenses to whichever private developer that gets involved with the mill project, through the private-public partnership approach to the building's revitalization.
"(It's) conceivable that costs could be higher than anticipated," said Mr. Gordon. "We will report back to committee when we get proposals and will decide if the township can cover those costs or look at transferring the expense to the private sector."
Future monthly reports on the overall waterfront project are expected to address other aspects of the plan's second phase, including plans for the Port Perry Marina, Latcham Centre and Scugog Island Cruises.
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NORTH DURHAM: The release of the Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Shelter's annual report has prompted one Uxbridge councillor to question whether the agreement between the two North Durham municipalities should continue being split 50/50.
Councillors were presented with the report at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Jan. 21, and it shows a large imbalance in use of services between the two municipalities.
Of the 137 dogs impounded by the Animal Shelter in 2012, 88 came from Scugog while just 38 came from Uxbridge. A further 11 were dropped off from other areas.
Cats showed an even greater discrepancy, with Scugog responsible for 230 of the 317 cats taken in by the Shelter in 2012
These figures, coupled with the fact that Uxbridge drew almost $3,000 more in tag sales prompted Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet to question the agreement between Uxbridge and Scugog.
"If Scugog is using two-thirds of the services at the shelter, then I feel they should be paying two-thirds of the cost," commented Councillor Highet.
Plans are currently in the works for the Shelter to be moved to a new facility on Lakeridge Rd., and the committee responsible for the project has been hard at work fundraising for the endeavor over the past two years. However, Councillor Highet insisted that the township can not wait for the facility to open to clear up the issue of service imbalance.
"I know that there are plans to build a new shelter, but I don't feel that this can wait until then," Councillor Highet added.
The report from Animal Control Manager Vicki McWhirter was ultimately received by council for information.
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SCUGOG: Scugog's fire department has invoiced their first ice rescue in a new program to recoup some of the expenses involved in such activities.
Fire Chief Richard Miller said that the rescue in question involved an angler from Oshawa who ventured onto the Lake Scugog ice on Jan. 13 off the eastern shore of Scugog Island, as temperatures climbed to unseasonable highs that weekend. The invoicing comes following a council direction last year, in which local firefighters responding to ice rescue calls have now been tasked with asking for a name and address for billing purposes.
Chief Miller said that three trucks responded to the Jan. 13 call, with one on standby, resources that will be reflected in the invoicing formula of $500 per truck plus manpower. Similar to the department's illegal burn fines, recipients have the option of disputing the charges before council, said the chief.
The invoicing proposal came following a handful of rescue and recovery incidents over the course of a single weekend in January 2012, when numerous snowmobiles plunged through the ice of Lake Scugog. The total cost of recovering those vehicles was estimated by the chief at $10,660. Chief Miller told councillors that four trucks - at $500 apiece - and 29 firefighters responded to the first call, while three trucks responded to the second incident.
While he said that reaction to invoicing for ice rescues in the township has been mixed, the chief added that lake users need to exercise a degree of personal responsibility when venturing onto ice, especially in light of the high temperatures experienced before and during the Jan. 13 rescue.
"The ice conditions that weekend weren't conducive (to recreation)," said Chief Miller, "so people have to make up their own minds whether they believe they are safe. We (the department) say that no ice is safe ice.
"Some say its fair, others say its unfair," added the chief, "but this is what council has directed me to do. And if people are going to be on the lake and we have to rescue them, we're going to be asking for names and addresses so that we can send them a bill."
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DURHAM: Durham's 'legacy landfills' throughout the Region's rural communities could be mined for recyclable materials and to reclaim the land for other future uses, said Works Commissioner Cliff Curtis, during a recent discussion of the Region's 2013 Solid Waste Management Servicing and Financing Study.
The document, presented and approved by the Region's Works committee on Jan. 10, detailed a number of items to be considered for the department's 2013 budget, as well as projects to be taken on by the department over the next five years.
The study went to Regional Council for approval on Jan. 23.
Those items include ongoing remediation projects at former landfill sites in both Oshawa and Brock Township, estimated to ring in at approximately $1.5 million and $4.2 million respectively over the coming year.
Discussion of the study quickly turned to proposed mining and reclamation of Durham's 'legacy landfills' - mostly those sites in Durham's rural communities that were assumed by the Region when it was incorporated in 1974 - to recover recyclable materials such as metals and prepare those former landfills for future use. The report outlined the project costs associated with reclaiming the Blackstock site as approximately $750,000. The report states that any waste materials would then be sent to the Durham-York incinerator in Clarington, and the former landfill hopefully returned to 'its original designation as part of the Greenbelt Natural Heritage System as defined by the Region's Official Plan.'
Reclamation of the property could also eliminate the need for the establishment of additional buffer lands around the defunct landfill, earmarked for 2015 at an estimated cost of $500,000.
Increased buffer zones have also been proposed at the same cost for the Scugog and Scott landfill sites, the latter of which has also been identified in the report as a potential candidate for future mining and reclamation.
"The intent is not to mine every legacy landfill, mainly those in rural areas," said Mr. Curtis. "Landfills are a perpetual responsibility and are generally bad news."
The report touched on a number of other issues pertaining to Durham's waste management program, including potential increases to the Region's waste diversion rate through the acceptance of additional plastics and porcelain into the recycling stream. Replying to a question from Scugog Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew regarding any potential increase to the diversion rate through these programs, Works staff said that such initiatives contributed only 0.1 per cent to Durham's diversion rate in 2012, which currently sits at approximately 53 per cent. The Region is aiming for a diversion rate of 70 per cent in the coming years.
Safety and dumping issues were also raised during the meeting.
Oshawa Mayor John Henry said that although the Region's battery recycling pilot program was by and large a success - even landing Durham a Guinness World Record for most batteries collected in a single 24-hour period - residents need to be advised of the potential hazards associated with storing nine-volt batteries, which can short out and possibly ignite when in contact with other metal objects. Mr. Curtis said that the public will be notified of the matter in conjunction with the next battery pick-up.
Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster raised a matter of a different kind - the dumping of waste at Durham's thrift stores and clothing donation boxes. While the Clarington mayor said that other municipalities have offered financial incentives like tax credits to charities for collection of unusable items, Mr. Curtis said that "there is no room in the budget" to initiate such a program, adding that it's more "a matter of public education.
"People use those facilities like transfer stations," said the Works commissioner. "Most of that (unusable) material should be going to the dump."
Mr. Curtis went on to explain that the business of recycling is changing with less paper entering blue boxes and items like packaging more in demand by processors paid to take recyclable materials from municipalities.
"Recycling is an expensive proposition but its the right thing to do," added Mr. Curtis.
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UXBRIDGE: The organizer of the Highlands of Durham Games appeared before Uxbridge Council this week to provide an update on the event for this coming year.
Steve Harrison appeared before council at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Jan. 21, to update council on the efforts of Ribfest and the Highland Games, as well as present a $500 donation to the township.
Last year was the first time both events were organized by the same group, and took place in back-to-back weekends at Elgin Park in Uxbridge. According to Mr. Harrison, combining the events proved to be a very successful endeavor and allowed organizers to cut their costs by a third.
"Being combined has saved both events," Mr. Harrison boasted. "We combined resources for everything and it was a success story, for both our event and the township."
Mr. Harrison added that there was record attendance at the Highland Games, and several residents told him that they attended Ribfest all three days.
New for this year at the Highland Games, Mr. Harrison mentioned that pipe bands from around the province would be invited to compete for the Elgin Award, which is fashioned out of an old oak tree. As well, there are plans for an outdoor play with a cast of roughly 90 people depicting the history of Scotland.
It was also noted that The Standard's popular Chrome in the Park Car Show at Ribfest would return in 2013 for a second year.
Talk soon shifted to the financial details of the event. Last week, council laid down a mandate that no group would be given no-rent access to the park without presenting financial reports to the township by March 1.
"I have only been asked for financial statements verbally, nothing in writing," Mr. Harrison said of the request, adding that he would be happy to cooperate and have township staff, including Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor look at his audited financial reports as he has done in the past.
Mr. Harrison, who noted that he slept at Elgin Park during Ribfest in order to protect the park, detailed the sparkling track record of the events in regards to mischief and other incidents.
"There has been no criminal activity, no vandalism, nothing in my 18 years with the event."
Since launching in the mid-90s, the Highland Games have grown substantially in reputation throughout the province. Mr. Harrison noted that the Games were ranked third out of 75 similar events in Ontario, and he remains committed to staging the event in Uxbridge.
"Despite offers to move the event to South Durham, I have no plans to do so. I love Elgin Park," said Mr. Harrison.
Although the park is offered by the township to the event free of charge, Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast clarified that groups are billed for any work carried out by the municipality's Parks and Works Departments.
"We have the $1,000 bill to prove it," added Mr. Harrison.
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger, who was a vocal opponent of the Ribfest event taking place last year, questioned the offering of the park rent-free.
"It bothers me that former residents have to pay an extra fee for our facilities, while a private business doesn't," said Councillor Ballinger.
However, Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis cautioned councillors about charging rent for the events at the park, and the ramifications such a move could have.
"Putting rent on the park might prevent those events from happening in the future," said Ms. Svelnis. "However, we could open up agreements with the Highland Games, Art in the Park and the Fair Board to have them provide financial statements."
Councillor Northeast sought the same treatment for all groups with talks shifting to groups disclosing financial details to the township.
"If we are going to do that, every group that operates should be doing the same. We can't pick and choose," commented Councillor Northeast.
Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle attempted to clarify the matter of financial statements being provided to the municipality.
"It's not about money or rent. It's about accountability and council being reassured that we're proper stewards of the park," said Councillor Mantle. "I wouldn't want my personal financial statements strewn about town. Maybe there is another way to do it, such as a closed session of council."
Councillors later passed a motion approving Ribfest and the Highland Games for 2013.
Discussions surrounding lease agreements with user groups at Elgin Park are expected to continue in the fall.
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SCUGOG:Calls by Ontario's Environmental Commissioner for increased regulation and responsibility for commercial fill by industry and the provincial government were among the viewpoints heard at last week's Large Scale Commercial Fill Symposium in Port Perry.
The day-long event, held jointly between Scugog Township and the Kawartha Conservation Authority at the Scugog Community Centre on Jan. 25, drew a full house of 260 attendees from across southern Ontario, bringing every perspective on the issue together in one room. From politicians and civil servants at all levels of government to community activists and industry members, attendees gathered to discuss a topic that has quickly become among the most prominent issues in southern Ontario's rural communities. As development of condominiums and transit extensions continues in places like downtown Toronto, the excavated soil is often trucked out to countryside dump spots, creating a financial windfall for property owners willing to collect urban dirt and raising numerous environmental and quality of life issues for involved municipalities.
The day began fittingly with a recap by Scugog CAO Bev Hendry of the commercial fill issue in Scugog Township, which began in 2010 with the purchase of a Lakeridge Rd. property by Earthworx Industries that eventually became a contested commercial fill site, resulting in a protracted legal battle between the business and the municipality. A 2011 provincial court decision ultimately ruled in favour of the township, when judges turned down Earthworx's defense of federal aviation legislation (the company contended it was constructing an airport) trumping municipal site alteration bylaws.
The lessons learned in that scenario, said Ms. Hendry, have been applied by the township in its dealings with the new owners of the Greenbank Airport, who, in 2012, suddenly announced an expansion plan that would require 2.5 million cubic metres of soil, to be trucked into the Hwy. 47 aviation facility over the next two years to raise the grade of the property. A municipal permit for that project was approved last fall, following numerous public meetings and discussions between the township and airport owners over the preceding months.
"We learned a lot (from Earthworx)," said Ms. Hendry. "First, we realized that there is no government agency in charge of managing fill. We also learned to trust our gut -if you ever have a situation where someone plays the airport card and hangs a windsock, separate the airport from the fill.... The court decision for Earthworx gave us confidence to deal with this - that fill was in the jurisdiction of the township. This story is not finished yet, but the lessons we've learned have turned our role from reactionary to acting first."
Bringing a municipal viewpoint from the opposite end of the fill spectrum was Toronto Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker. Known for his environmental views, the councillor outlined several eco-friendly uses for such material, which has been used to create nature sanctuaries such as Tommy Thompson Park on Toronto's Leslie Street Spit, a land feature that created entirely from leftover building material. The park has since become home to the largest colony of double crested cormorants in the Great Lakes and the largest colony of black crowned night herons in Canada.
"It shows that something good can happen from fill, especially if you plan in advance," said Councillor De Baeremaeker. "It all came from dirt. As a citizen, if you're talking about fill, it's bad. But fill is not going to go away - we're not going to stop building subways and LRTs. What we have to decide is what we're going to do about it. Are we going to fight over it, or minimize conflict and maximize our opportunities? There's many tools in the tool box that we need and fill is going to have to provide a net positive benefit for our environment and the public."
A familiar name since Scugog's commercial fill battle with Earthworx began almost three years ago, Carmela Marshall of community group Lakeridge Citizens for Clean Water informed attendees of the viewpoint from those living within close proximity of rural commercial fill sites. The group sprung up in reaction to the Earthworx site on Lakeridge Rd., raising concerns over potential impact to both drinking water and the natural environment from a fill site established on lands within the boundaries of the environmentally-significant Oak Ridges Moraine.
"The development boom has created a multi-million dollar industry," said Ms. Marshall. "But we believe that profits should not always come first. And in some cases, there's a blatant disregard for the law, such was the case in Scugog (with Earthworx). How this material is managed at the source and receiving sites plays a role. What's most concerning is the critical lack of testing for brownfield soils. The Ministry of the Environment doesn't currently require testing of material leaving brownfields, so often there's no record of soil removed or where it was sent."
Several other speakers identified critical gaps in provincial legislation that could potentially control the problems related with commercial fill. According to Josh Garfinkel of environmental group EarthROOTS and Chris Darling of the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority, the issue of land use must be addressed in legislation such as the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan to exert more control over how and where fill is dumped in rural areas. Mr. Garfinkel added that if the matter is left up to individual municipalities, a patchwork of legislation results with the potential for neighbouring communities to have vastly different policies on fill.
"It's clear that smaller municipalities have little power in stopping fill but it's left up to them by the province and that's a problem," said Mr. Garfinkel. "Fill is not a new issue but the amount has increased. Earthroots is not opposed to fill - it's about doing it properly. Something is not working when citizens and local government have to turn to us non-profits for assistance. With a million people on the moraine relying on groundwater, it would be disastrous if water were to become polluted."
The afternoon featured the industry perspective of commercial fill matters, including a presentation by Partick Dovigi, CEO of waste remediation business Green For Life, which has been involved in numerous developments along Toronto's waterfront, treating excavated soil for contaminants before its shipped to receiving sites.
The company will be one of the sources of soil for the expansion plans at the Greenbank Airport, owned by Green For Life's Bob Munshaw. GFL/Direct Line's Pickering location is also where trucks, hauling from former industrial sites on the Toronto waterfront, were sent for soil treatment prior to hauling the dirt to the Earthworx Industries fill site on Lakeridge Rd. According to a statement by the Ministry of the Environment dated April 12, 2011, GFL/Direct Line 'began accepting soils in June 2010 and shipped treated soils to Earthworx beginning in September 2010.' It's unknown whether or not GFL/Direct Line would have received any of the soil placed at the Earthworx site that tested positive for a number of chemicals in 2010.
Mr. Dovigi later told the audience that if a new proposal from an undisclosed buyer to purchase the former Earthworx site goes through, GFL has agreed to help clean up the property. What the clean-up would entail was not explained at the meeting.
According to Mr. Dovigi, the company has begun to work more closely with those municipalities in which GFL's soil is dumped. The process he described is similar to the conditions agreed to between Scugog and Greenbank airport - creating a fill receiving plan and management plan, while ensuring a consultant is retained for the duration of the project and information is shared with the public via related web sites. He added that involved municipalities are also sharing in revenues generated from fill, in addition to any financial securities posted by a site owner.
"From our perspective, there's three things we know for sure," said Mr. Dovigi. "There's more construction and more contaminated soil to get rid of. It comes down to compliance and how we do it. What we're missing is how a site actually works. There's certain challenges - many small municipalities don't have the expertise to deal with fill.... What we've found to work, in coming up with a model, is to create transparency and open dialogue. The next step is to consult with the local conservation authority, the Ministry of Natural Resources and residents' groups prior to applications. We've also developed protocol to deal with concerns, creating a public liaison committee to deal with theses issues. We have to take the approach that anything leaving a site is potentially contaminated. Uncertainty leads to problems and rumours."
Moreen Miller, CEO of the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, told the audience that while former pits and quarries often used to receive fill are no longer under the organization's jurisdiction, she offered that increased control of such sites could be strengthened through clarified legislation at both the provincial and municipal level, regardless of boundary lines, adding that such material should be "going to the right places for the right reasons," such as the creation of ski hills or other uses. Ms. Miller also addressed the matter of site owners accepting soil for large payouts without doing the appropriate tests to guard against pollution.
"I'm not here today to tell you it doesn't go on," said Ms. Miller of dumping in old gravel pits. "We need to involve community-conscious companies (in managing fill). There's an elephant in the room - there's not enough money in the system to do the right amount of tests (for contaminants). You could spend $600 on tests and you still have to pay the driver. We're creating a system where there's not enough money so that everyone tests honestly."
Another problem, said Doug LeBlanc of soil management firm DLS Group, are inconsistencies in the testing process itself. Mr. LeBlanc, who was retained to inspect soil imported to the Earthworx site in 2010 and is now working with the Greenbank Airport project, told the symposium that certain chemicals, including mercury and benzene - "pass because there are problems in the testing process" used by most laboratories.
"Everything dumped at Greenbank is tracked by GPS and we can track each individual load," said Mr. LeBlanc. "We've turned down 10 sites since we've began."
As for who should be ultimately responsible for the disposal of such material, Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, told attendees that increased scrutiny needs to come from the province through the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs and Ministry of Infrastructure, as opposed to the Ministry of the Environment.
"It's not about filling - it's about digging holes," said Mr. Miller. "Would you have a fill problem if they weren't digging holes in Toronto? This isn't your problem - it's theirs. They dig a hole six stories deep and that dirt comes here and drives you people nuts. They dig that deep to park cars - because Toronto needs that. Most of the time, they don't use the parking. We're digging holes and moving dirt without good reasons. It's cheaper to move than to incorporate into design, because the problem disappears with trucks.
Mr. Miller added that its those site operators that skip testing in favour of maximizing profit that need to be reined in with a combination of provincial legislation and increased industrial responsibility for such material.
"Currently, there's a huge opportunity for unlawful activities," said the commissioner. "I'm confident we can regulate the honest world of fill, but you can't regulate the mafia. It costs a lot to get rid of trucks of dirt and sometimes there's little or no sampling or tracking.
"The MOE is not the mechanism, they just handle the bad guys," added Mr. Miller. "It's not the conservation authorities' problem, either. You've got to put the monkey on the right back - excavation of earth materials must be managed on a life-cycle basis. From cradle to grave, the responsibility is the creator's responsibility - whoever dug the holes should bear the full cost. That's the central concept that's missing - it's always been someone else's problem. Big holes are also the result of the MMAH and MOI policies. These ministries are driving this type of intensification. Let's get it solved where it should be solved - at Queen''s Park and downtown Toronto."
The last word of the day went to Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier, who has been dealing with the issue of commercial fill since being elected into office in October 2010, just weeks after the township revoked Earthworx Industries' site alteration after soil tests revealed excessive amounts of certain contaminants.
"People have asked me, 'why don't you just ban fill?'" said the mayor. "That usually creates bigger problems and court challenges, especially when industry and others have measures to manage. It's just talk if we don't do anything from the outcomes of today."
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UXBRIDGE: After months of number crunching, Uxbridge Council put the finishing touches on the 2013 municipal budget on Monday, Jan. 28, with a tentative 3.77 per cent increase to the municipal portion of the tax bill.
The funding is broken down into a 2.77 per cent increase in the operating/capital projects budget, plus an additional one per cent set aside for the new fire hall, which is expected to be operational by 2014. This coming year marks the final year of the additional one per cent increase to offset the construction costs of the new fire hall, which is expected to be constructed on Brock St., just west of Quaker Village Dr.
For the average Uxbridge residence, with an assessed value of $400,000, the increase amounts to an extra $40.15 per household for the year.
"It came down to essentially an increase of 2.77 per cent with an extra one per cent added for the final year of fire hall funding," explained Finance Committee Chair Pat Molloy, who also serves as councillor for Ward 2.
The final approval of the municipal budget is expected to take place at Council's meeting on the morning of Monday, Feb. 11.
Although the township has allocated $9,603,482 in spending for the next year, Councillor Molloy added that the budget is in large part, a financial framework for the township.
"This is a budget, and it's not necessarily cast in stone," explained Councillor Molloy. "It's a framework we're going to work with, although the nickels and dimes may change as the year goes on."
Councillors praised the work of township staff, including the various department managers for all of their hard work throughout the budget process. Last week, after council had already slashed several thousand dollars from the budget, department heads were again tasked with finding additional savings for the township's residents.
The various department heads returned to council chambers this week with an additional $115,800 taken out of the operating budget and an additional $281,500 removed from the capital projects budget.
Although the budget process is nearing an end for this year, several councillors noted that there are still several tough decisions ahead regarding municipally-owned assets.
Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle presented four such areas of concern to councillors at their meeting on Jan. 28.
Councillor Mantle raised concerns over the long-term viability of the Foster Memorial, the Uxbridge Historical Centre, the Siloam Hall and the Orange Hall in Goodwood.
The concerns raised by Councillor Mantle regarding the Foster Memorial dealt mainly with the facility's much-needed structural repairs, while the Historical Centre, Siloam Hall and Orange Hall all have similar issues with expenditures exceeding revenues.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor agreed with the majority of Councillor Mantle's sentiments, particularly with regards to the Foster Memorial, with the Mayor suggesting that the township look to the higher levels of government for support in maintaining the cultural landmark.
"We've got to be able to do something fast with the Foster," said Mayor O'Connor. "We saved it once, but we're not in a position to own and maintain it. This presents an opportunity for us to reach out to both the federal and provincial governments for support."
Bev Northeast, Councillor for Ward 1, also expressed concerns over the Foster Memorial, and pushed for a speedy resolution to the maintenance issues.
"We can't neglect the Foster any longer," said Councillor Northeast. "We need to look to someone who is going to take care of it over the long term. But, we need to start repairs right away because no one in their right mind is going to take it on needing over $800,000 in repairs."
Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet went one step further, and encouraged staff to come up with a long-term plan to both fund and maintain township-owned properties.
"We need a long-term vision of how we are going to maintain these properties. What do we plan to do with them? How are we going to maintain them? We need to have a vision or goal for the asset and work the budget around that, not the other way around," said Councillor Highet.
Later, when Councillor Mantle proposed ongoing discussions throughout the year regarding the future maintenance of township facilities, it was met with great enthusiasm from Councillor Highet.
"It'll take us almost the entire year to get through all of our assets," commented Councillor Highet.
It was later noted by several councillors that the municipal portion is only one part of the larger tax bill.
Under the current funding model, the municipal portion of the tax bill accounts for approximately 20 per cent. The Durham District School Board receives 23 per cent of the tax levy, while the Region of Durham receives the remaining 57 per cent, of which approximately half is dedicated to the Durham Regional Police Service.
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SCUGOG: Work on a proposed Scugog Island hotel and resort is moving ahead slowly, with the developer not ruling out the possibility of just building a single hotel on the property depending on market demand at the time of construction.
Scugog councillors approved a staff report this week supporting a Regional Official Plan amendment to change the zoning of the Portview Rd. development, which could see an 80-unit hotel and 150-unit townhouse resort constructed along the shores of Lake Scugog northeast of the Hwy. 7A causeway. The project, which is still in the approval stage, was originally proposed to a former council in late 2005.
According to Scugog planning consultant Jim Dyment, another required amendment to the township's new Official Plan centres around the amount of water that the proposed development would use - 172,000 litres daily - which exceeds the OP's current water use capacity of 4,500 litres for such developments, a condition that came into effect after the project's initial proposal.
Mr. Dyment added that the project could potentially generate up to $42,500 in annual property taxes for the township.
The issue of the project's impact on neighbouring wells has been a concern of nearby residents since the development was initially proposed. Gary Hendy of Genivar and Lino Trombino of the Region of Durham, both of whom were in attendance at the Jan. 28 meeting, said that the development's water use would not impact local wells due to the site's use of water from a deeper aquifer than that used by dug wells, as demonstrated in recent tests. However, Mr. Dyment recommended that the project be built in stages so as to monitor any potential effects on local wells. Should any problems arise once the development is finished, Mr. Dyment recommended that the township take a similar approach to that of golf courses - by putting the responsibility of supplying water in the event of an interruption on the property owner.
"Staff opinion is that we should phase in this development so that we can track how much water is being used and monitor the impacts on neighbouring wells," said Mr. Dyment.
However, the ultimate appearance of the development is yet to be determined, according to architect Peter Favot. The statement drew some concern from Ward 5 Councillor Howard Danson over what exactly council was being asked to approve, as well as the necessity of phasing in a project for water monitoring purposes when studies imply that enough water will be available for the site. Mr. Dyment replied that the report was simply to support the zoning change to get the project moving ahead, while township Planning Director Don Gordon explained that the phasing recommendation was due to both market demand and "pragmatic planning" to address any potential water supply issues that may arise.
"We won't know the amount of units until we know the demand," said Mr. Favot. "We will do a marketing study for hotel and residential portions as we move forward. It will be a costly analysis and one that will take time. We may start with 80 units and then the economy could change drastically. We may phase it in, or may even just build a hotel. We may end up with just a hotel on the site. And until we get more approvals, we can't go to a hotel chain and say we're going with them."
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SCUGOG:The national media turned its attention to Scugog last week, as the township seeks to recoup some of its costs after an Oshawa fisherman had to be rescued from Lake Scugog last month.
Neil Robbescheuten, a 62-year-old retired teacher from Oshawa, needed to be rescued from the lake on Jan. 13, when he became disoriented after a layer of dense fog enveloped the lake as he tried to make his way back to shore and he went through the ice in a marshy area.
The ensuing rescue, which was completed using a raft to drag the man approximately 150 metres to shore, has netted Mr. Robbescheuten a bill for services totalling close to $5,400.
Mr. Robbescheuten is the first person charged with such a bill under the new township by-law, and he has stated that he intends to contest the charge at a Scugog council meeting on Monday, March 4.
Scugog Fire Chief Richard Miller told The Standard that the bill was based on a cost of $500 per truck per hour as well as the cost of manpower to execute the rescue.
The chief added that Mr. Robbescheuten was not equipped with a GPS system, which made the process of locating him difficult for firefighters.
"We sent three trucks because we didn't know what was needed," Chief Miller said. "Plus, it was at the end of the island and a lot of the time people don't know where they are."
Mr. Robbescheuten was on the ice during a mild stretch of weather. According to Environment Canada, the weather did not dip below freezing at any point between Jan. 11 and 13. As well, local conservation authorities had issued warnings regarding the ice conditions, urging people to stay onshore.
"It was clearly the fisherman's choice to go out there that day," Chief Miller said. "No ice is safe ice. I have lived here all my life, and as a 57-year resident of Scugog, I do not go out onto the ice for that very reason."
Chief Miller went on to say that his primary duty is to ensure the safety of all Scugog residents and visitors.
"No one is the bad guy. We are trying to keep Scugog safe, and make sure that when someone goes out onto the Lake that they have the tools to keep themselves safe. People on the lake are at risk and what we have done is buy the best equipment and train on a regular basis in order to provide the best possible service."
In the wake of all the media attention, Chief Miller is hoping that it will serve to educate people about the hazards that exist in the winter months on Lake Scugog.
"After all this media attention, everyone in Canada should know that Scugog has tricky ice conditions at the best of times," commented Chief Miller.
Mayor Chuck Mercier also saw the attention as positive.
"The public awareness factor is huge, especially if this saves lives," said the mayor. "Hopefully, we'll have a spring without someone falling into the water."
With files from Blake Wolfe
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NORTH DURHAM: A judge ruled on Friday, Feb. 1, that Darwin, the so-called Ikea monkey, will remain at a Sunderland primate sanctuary until a custody trial later this year.
Darwin has been at the centre of a custody battle between owner Yasmin Nakhuda and Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland that has garnered international attention since the primate was nabbed by Toronto Animal Services in December, when he was found in a Toronto-area Ikea dressed in a shearling coat, after escaping from his owner's car.
In making his decision to have Darwin remain at Story Book until a custody trial can begin in the spring, Judge Michael Brown reminded the court that this is not a custody case regarding a child, but a matter dealing with personal property, as he denied Ms. Nakhuda's request to be reunited with Darwin prior to the trial.
"It must be remembered that Darwin is not a human being. The custody rules regarding children do not apply," said the judge.
Judge Brown also denied a similar bid put forth by Ms. Nakuda in December. In making his decision on the matter, Judge Brown also cited credibility issues with Ms. Nakuda, but did not elaborate on the subject.
"I do not believe that any irreparable harm will occur to the plaintiff and her bond with Darwin or Darwin himself, so long as an early trial date can be set," said Judge Brown.
When Ms. Nakuda left the Oshawa courthouse later in the day, she had few words for the scores of media present for the decision.
"You've just learned that loving is not enough to win a motion," she said outside the courthouse. "I will keep loving him. I don't know about fighting but I will keep loving him."
Sherri Delaney, the president of Story Book, told assembled media members that she was "relieved" with the judge's decision.
"At least we know that we'll have him until May. We'll see what happens in trial," said Ms. Delaney.
Ms. Delaney added that Darwin is "doing very well" and "thriving" at the sanctuary.
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SCUGOG: Several Scugog councillors recently raised concerns regarding the current progress made on the Old Mill aspect of Port Perry's ongoing waterfront revitalization project.
A monthly update on the project appeared before councillors at last week's general purpose and administration committees meeting this week, outlining advancements made since November. Among those developments included consultations with a number of stakeholders in the waterfront, including the Port Perry Seniors Club (who make use of the Latcham Centre) and Scugog Island Cruises. In addition, consultant T. Harris Environmental Management, Inc., has since been retained to oversee and manage the cleaning of the Old Mill stairwell, the first phase of decontamination in the currently unused portions of the building. According to the report, the stairwell cleaning will be undertaken in the near future following the awarding of the contract this month. A structural audit of the building's timbers and subsequent clean-up of the interior will take place after the stairwell cleaning. Responding to an inquiry by Ward 1 Councillor Larry Corrigan, Planning Director Don Gordon said that staff agreed the best way to inspect the building's interior was to get the bottom-up view through the stairwell as opposed to peeling back a section of the building's exterior for the top-down perspective.
The report, however, raised concerns from several councillors. Ward 5 Councillor Howard Danson questioned a proposal to transfer the remaining cleaning costs (following the stairwell clean-up) to the township's future private sector partner, in a P3 (public-private partnership) arrangement. Councillors and township staff met with representatives from Infrastructure Ontario on Feb. 4 for an information session on undertaking such an initiative.
Mr. Gordon replied that "we want to see the turn out of the stairwell clean up and then see if we can do the rest. It may turn out to be too expensive for us to take on, and then we will see if it's reasonable to transfer that cost to our private partner." Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew questioned the timeline of the project.
"My problem is the time it has taken to get to this point - we've asked for this for several months now and we don't have the stairwell cleaned," said Councillor Drew. "I want to make sure it's done right, but I don't want to wait until next winter."
Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier echoed the concerns of councillors while addressing the financial considerations of staff in the project.
"The best approach would be to budget $200,000 to do all the work," said the mayor. "We didn't do that because we don't have the money so we're taking small steps and now we're tripping over each step. We hired T. Harris to do assessments on clean ups. We're spending a lot of time on something before we get Harris report. Everyone wants to see this move forward and it's taking some time."
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NORTH DURHAM: Renowned horticultural expert Mark Cullen issued a dire warning for Uxbridge councillors in regards to the threat to North Durham posed by the Emerald Ash Borer at their meeting on the evening of Monday, Jan. 28.
Mr. Cullen began his presentation by noting that the ash borer has devastated ash trees in cities such as Cleveland, Detroit and Windsor since its arrival in the American Midwest from Asia nearly 20 years ago.
The insect is currently wreaking havoc on trees in Ottawa, meaning the threat is looming for North Durham from both the east and west.
"Councillor (Jacob) Mantle told me that you don't have any ash borers, but I'm here to tell you that you will," warned Mr. Cullen. "But, you're fortunate in Uxbridge that you have some time before that happens."
Mr. Cullen then suggested that the township's parks department contact other municipalities such as Oakville, Richmond Hill and Markham that have been aggressively meeting the challenge of combatting the ash borer through the application of TreeAzin. The substance is derived from the from extracts of Neem tree seeds, and has proven successful in the treatment of affected ash trees.
According to Mr. Cullen, the affected trees are injected with TreeAzin in alternating years, with the process taking anywhere between six to eight years to complete. The cost per injection ranges between $200 and $300.
Councillors thanked Mr. Cullen for his through presentation on the matter, and noted that decisions regarding prevention of the ash borer may be coming soon.
"You have given council a lot of information to plan with before the problem is directly in front of us," said Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor. "We're going to spend our money one way or another, but if we can save them, I think that's the best course of action."
Public Works Director Ben Kester later explained that there are currently 440 ash trees on public land in Uxbridge Township, with most between 10 and 15 years old.
According to Mr. Kester, the cost of cutting down and removing these ash trees would be approximately $2,000 with another $300 to $350 needed to replace the tree afterwards.
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UXBRIDGE: After approving the municipal budget for the coming year on Monday, Feb. 11, Uxbridge councillors turned their attention to the Regional budget, which has left some feeling that North Durham is helping to subsidize areas of South Durham.
Uxbridge councillors formally approved the municipal budget for 2013 on Monday, with a 3.77 per cent total increase to the township portion of the tax bill. The amount includes an extra one per cent to fund the construction of a new fire hall for Uxbridge Township. This was the third, and final, year of the additional levy to fund the new facility.
Finance Committee Chair Pat Molloy took time after the budget's approval to thank township staff for their prudent spending, which has amounted to a five per cent increase in the township's operating budget over the past five years, while still providing key services to township residents.
"It's important to note with a tax increase, that residents have wants and needs, and want to pay the lowest taxes possible," said Councillor Molloy. "And we've been able to add some excellent parks and rec facilities, such as the splash pad and skate park as well as funding for the new fire hall."
Council's attention then turned to the Durham Regional Budget, which according to Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor, is expected to come in with an increase of 2.74 per cent, although she noted that there are still some outstanding issues with the police budget, which accounts for approximately half of the regional budget. The Mayor then levied criticism for the bloated police budget.
"The police service is out of control, especially when you look at some of the salaries coming down through arbitration," commented Mayor O'Connor.
The Mayor also had harsh words for Durham Region Transit, which she voted against when the measure was initially adopted in 2006.
"It's disgusting what we're paying for transit. We're paying the same up here for three days of bus service as they are paying in the south for a bus every 10 minutes. If you are a rural resident, you get nothing," said Mayor O'Connor.
The Mayor's comments led Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy, a Zephyr resident jokingly asked what a bus looks like.
"We've never seen a bus in the north," added Councillor Molloy.
However, Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast, a strong supporter of the transit system, defended the service it provides to some township residents.
"We have transit everyday down to Durham College. Those students are now able to stay at home, and if they don't have a car, they don't have to pay the $8,000 a year to stay at the college," explained Councillor Northeast.
However, Councillor Northeast's comments appeared to do little to sway the Mayor's opinions on the transit system.
"If you look at what we're paying, we could afford to buy every one of those students a car," commented Mayor O'Connor. "We're greatly overpaying for the service we receive. Transit is the one that'll bring us down in the future because of the extreme cost, approximately $1.5 million per bus."
The Mayor closed the discussion by lauding the township for the prudent detail to taxpayer monies.
"Uxbridge has done exceedingly well considering the lack of funds coming from the province, which will only get worse with time," said Mayor O'Connor.
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SCUGOG: Scugog residents can expect to pay an extra $33 on this year's tax bill, even with the late addition of another unexpected item to the township's 2013 budget.
The budget was passed at council's Feb. 11 meeting, following discussion of the final draft of the document at a meeting held earlier that afternoon. This year's budget will result in a tax hike of 3.51 per cent, or approximately $33 on the average tax bill of a property assessed at $329,000. This year's tax hike was trimmed down from a jump of 3.6 per cent proposed last month, that figure reduced from an earlier hike of 5.25 per cent pitched a week earlier.
Although staff and councillors cited ongoing budget pressures noted in previous years such as rising insurance and fuel costs, the township also had to make up for a shortfall in provincial funding, after it was announced in December that Scugog's 2013 share of Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) dollars - $1,222,600 - would be substantially less than the previous contribution of $1,355,400. According to township treasurer Trena DeBruijn in an earlier interview, the $132,800 reduction is equal to approximately 1.3 per cent of Scugog's 2012 tax levy.
Among the items in this year's budget:
- more than $2,458,000 in infrastructure maintenance costs
- $25,000 in community hall maintenance
- $13,000 toward the fire department's next-generation radio system
- $25,000 for a development charge study
- $22,900 in library operation expenditures
Describing the budget as somewhat tight, Ward 5 Councillor and Finance Chair Howard Danson noted that 2013 will also see the township complete its debentures on the municipal office building as well as the second ice pad at the Scugog Arena, paving the way for a brighter 2014.
In addition to the payment of those items, the councillor also cited a number of other upcoming projects in the township in his assessment of the coming years, including the proposed Scugog Island hotel/resort, as well as renovations at the Blackstock Recreation Centre and Greenbank Airport.
"We should all feel good about the progress we've made over the last two years," said the councillor, "and our current financial status is in good shape as the reserves show. I'm looking to a dynamic year on council, despite our funding being restricted somewhat. But it's the old adage - we have to do more with less."
Although the budget was passed on Feb. 11, Mayor Chuck Mercier said that some fine-tuning will be required in March, when a report detailing an arbitration award for Scugog firefighters who sought to unionize comes before councillors. With the award being announced last week, Mayor Mercier said that councillors will have to look at removing some items from the budget rather than increasing the burden on taxpayers.
"We'll have some more things to consider on March 4," said the mayor. "The award was substantial and we'll have to examine the impact. It won't change the 3.51 per cent tax increase, but it will cause us to make some other decisions. We'll find out what the impact is, and then look at a menu of options. It's a financial impact but I'm not prepared to delay the budget process."
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UXBRIDGE: Organizers of a motocross race in Zephyr are revving their engines for the return of the event to the hamlet this summer.
Luke Dillon appeared before council at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Feb. 11 to discuss details of this year's race, which looks to build upon the success of last summer's inaugural event, which is run under the CMX banner of events.
Mr. Dillon told councillors that he needs to start contacting sponsors for the event, and his visit to council was with the hopes that the process for gaining approval doesn't drag out.
Among the changes to the motocross event for 2013, is the inclusion of a Saturday practice run to allow riders to familiarize themselves with the course, which is situated on Mr. Dillon's farm. The Saturday session would last four hours and with many riders taking to the closed course for the first time, it's prudent for safety reasons to allow them a practice session, contended Mr. Dillon, who added that no spectators would be permitted for the events on Saturday.
As well, Mr. Dillon asked councillors to allow for greater attendance at the event, increasing from 1,000 riders and spectators last year to 3,000 this year.
It was noted by Mr. Dillon that with last year's cap of 1,000 attendees, that some spectators were turned away from the event.
"There weren't a lot of spectators last year, because we had limited time to advertise, it was probably 60 to 70 per cent race families," added Mr. Dillon.
Additionally, it was requested that camping for the event start on Friday night to better facilitate riders coming from great distances to take part in the Saturday practice session.
"We'd like to start camping on Friday to accommodate those travelling from far away," Mr. Dillon explained. "It's hard to make it from Sarnia for a 10 a.m. practice."
It was later added, by Mr. Dillon, that on-line registry for the event will give organizers a better idea of what is needed prior to this year's event.
Responding to a question from Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast, Mr. Dillon has a detailed plan to inform his neighbours about the changes to the event this year.
"We would hold a public meeting, just as we did last year, and a letter drop within 5 km of the event to let people know about the changes," Mr. Dillon said.
The answer resonated with Councillor Northeast, who commended Mr. Dillon on his event last year.
"I was a supporter last year, but you stuck to the rules and did a good job," said Councillor Northeast.
Ultimately though, no decision on dropping the green flag was made by council, as they await a new special events by-law, which is scheduled to come before council on March 4, as Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor explained.
"Council shouldn't be giving any green light until we see the new by-law," said Mayor O'Connor.
The Mayor went on to speak highly of the event last year, during which she took part in trophy presentations.
"I was at your event last year and was amazed at how well run it was, and the amount of families with young kids that were there," commented Mayor O'Connor.
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NORTH DURHAM: Although the event is still four months away, organizers for the local Relay For Life event are busy planning for the 2013 edition of the popular cancer fundraising initiative.
Local Relay organizer and cancer survivor Tammy Horvath appeared before Scugog Council recently, providing councillors with an update on plans for this year's event, scheduled for Friday, June 7, to the morning of June 8, at Elgin Park in Uxbridge.
Ms. Horvath, who battled and conquered the cancer that threatened to take her life nine years ago, outlined a new national campaign by the Canadian Cancer Society called the Fearless Project, aimed at changing the perception of the disease for patients and their families.
"This council and community has lead the fight against cancer in North Durham," said Ms. Horvath, noting that Feb. 4 - the date of her presentation - was World Cancer Day. "How do we change cancer forever? This is a question that we at the Canadian Cancer Society are asking. How do we change terror to triumph, fear to hope? The Fearless Project is a different way of relating to disease, by de-mystifying cancer."
Ms. Horvath also extended a challenge to Mayor Chuck Mercier, to join Uxbridge Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor and Brock Mayor Terry Clayton in donning their best clown suits to go with this year's Relay theme of 'North Durham's largest birthday party.' To date, the North Durham Relay event has raised more than $1 million in the fight against cancer.
More details will be announced on www.cancer.ca/relay as they become available in the coming months.
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NORTH DURHAM: Residents across Durham can expect to pay an additional $54 on the Regional portion of their 2013 tax bill, after councillors approved a 2.35 per cent tax hike last week.
Durham's mayors and Regional councillors approved the Region's 2013 budget last Wednesday (Feb. 13), during a lengthy discussion of the document at that day's council meeting. The increase in taxes is the same hike passed in 2012.
Among this year's new budget items:
- $55 million dedicated to the expansion and improvement of the Region's road and bridge networks;
- Funding for several new solid waste management initiatives, including the implementation of #3 to #7 plastics recycling;
- Operational requirements for the launch of the new Durham Region Transit Pulse service, which will provide rapid transit options on Hwy. 2 through Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa.
However, the discussion was not without a few sticking points, namely the budget put forth by Durham Region Police as well as transit funding, specifically a 50 per cent cost increase for Durham Region Transit passes for students.
Several councillors criticized the police for submitting a $172 million budget that includes high-profile capital items, such as the new Clarington police complex, a building that will house such functions as a new Centre of Investigative Excellence, new facilities for the DRPS' K9 and Tactical units and new warehouse storage. The budget includes a $5.5 million charge for architectural design of the new facility. This year's police budget also does not include any money for new officers. According to Commissioner of Finance Jim Clapp, the new building means there will be approximately $20 million worth of debt for the DRPS in 2014.
Uxbridge Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor later made a motion requesting a report from police justifying the per-square-foot cost of $350 that will be spent on the building's warehouse. That motion was passed following the vote on the budget.
Councillors also discussed a proposed increase to DRT's student pass, increasing from approximately $49 to $74 this fall. The increase drew criticism from Durham Catholic District School Board representatives trustee Chris Lahey and Ryan Putnam, superintendent of business and chief financial officer, who appeared before councillors that morning to decry the increase. Although students within the Durham District School Board pay for their transit passes, Durham's Catholic students see their transit costs covered by the board, which also receives some provincial funding to cover transit costs. Mr. Lahey and Mr. Putnam said that the jump in price will impact the board's budget directly, by forcing trustees to choose between continuing their relationship with DRT or cutting classroom materials.
The price increase was later passed by council.
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UXBRIDGE: Bell Canada recently approached council with plans to add a new telecommunications tower to the town in the hopes of improving the area's cell phone and wireless internet service.
James Kennedy appeared before councillors at their meeting on Monday, Feb. 4, to outline the project, which would see the addition of a 35-metre tower at 20 Victoria St., home to Newmarket Pre-Cast Concrete Products.
Uxbridge residents have long sought improved coverage from telecommunications providers, and as Mr. Kennedy explained, the new tower will go a long way to improve coverage.
"Uxbridge, as a little known fact, is in the top 10 in coverage complaints in Canada," said Mr. Kennedy. "This site is meant to provide coverage inside of town, and compliment the existing towers east and west of Uxbridge. It's a lot like street lights. They're designed to cover a certain distance and when coverage from one spot ends, coverage from another facility needs to begin."
Mr. Kennedy went on to explain that the tower would look like a flagpole, as the company looks to reduce the size of towers and have them look as "stealth" as possible, and have them look like they are part of the existing landscape. According to Mr. Kennedy, in addition to Bell, the site would also provide coverage for Telus customers.
Construction of the tower is expected to take place closest to the train tracks on the site, and will sit approximately 96 metres away from the closest residence.
"We've tried to be at least three times the height of the tower away from residential, or as close as we can get without impacting the facility," added Mr. Kennedy.
Later, Mr. Kennedy responded positively to a request from Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger to have trees and shrubs planted near the base of the tower.
The next step in the process, as explained by Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis is to have documentation submitted to the township as well as consultation with the building department and nearby residents.
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UXBRIDGE: Councillors recently approved the purchase of three new humicon units as part of the ambitious renovation project at Uxbridge Arena.
At their meeting on the morning of Monday, Feb. 11, councillors voted to approve the purchase of the units which carry a total price tag of almost $67,000 as explained in a report from Township Facilities Manager Bob Ferguson.
"The humicons are essential in the building's functionality controlling the humidity on the ice pads," explained Mr. Ferguson in his report.
The humicons are just one part of a much larger renovation project planned for the 35-year-old facility, that will also see Pad 1 nearly completely remodelled in time for next season.
A condition of federal funding received for the project is that a percentage of the money is to be spent by the end of March, and according to Mr. Ferguson, the purchase of these new units allows the township to clear that particular hurdle.
As part of the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund, Uxbridge will be receiving approximately $400,000 from the federal government for the renovations, with the township adding the remaining $800,000.
"Typically facilities like this have a 35-year lifespan, so we are right in line with that since the arena opened in 1978," Mr. Ferguson told The Standard. "It's exciting that we'll basically have brand new facility by the time the season starts up again in the fall."
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SCUGOG: As progress on a proposed Toronto gaming facility moves on, representatives of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation continue to rally in support of the local Great Blue Heron Charity Casino.
The latest development in the proposal to create a Toronto casino came recently, after several large commercial developers, including RioCan, criticized the idea of locating the facility in the city's downtown. Such a facility would likely be built in one of three downtown Toronto sites - the Port Lands, Exhibition Place or Metro Toronto Convention Centre - the latter of which is close to a parcel of land purchased by the three developers critical of the proposed facility. Coincidentally, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) Chair Paul Godfrey also serves as board chair for RioCan.
For the Mississaugas, little has changed.
"Our casino is a huge success for our community, and for Ontario," said Missassaugas Councillor Kelly LaRocca. "We oppose anything that would make us less of a success.
In a previous interview with The Standard, Ms. LaRocca, who is also a member of the Baagwating Community Association (BCA), the charitable arm of the Great Blue Heron Charity Casino on Scugog Island, a Toronto casino will undoubtedly have an impact on local casino revenues and subsequently, the ability of the BCA to donate proceeds to local causes and organizations. Since the Great Blue Heron's doors opened in January 1997, millions of dollars have been donated to Scugog Township and various charities and non-profit organizations, according to the casino's web site.
In addition to any immediate impact felt by the local casino's operators, the announcement has delayed the Great Blue Heron's expansion plans currently under discussion, which would add 25 tables and 300 slot machines, as well as allow for increased betting limits on a number of existing games.
Those plans hit a roadblock in 2011, pending provincial approvals of certain conditions regarding the table and betting limit increases.
"It makes little sense to support the set up of something in Toronto or Markham that would hurt our community or the Durham Region," said Ms. LaRocca. "We have already communicated this sentiment to the government and the Opposition parties. We hope they are listening. We intend to continue our opposition to a casino in Toronto or Markham so as to protect the jobs, success, and goodwill that the GBH Casino has fostered to date."
The casino proposal was part of a March 2012 announcement by the OLG, which also saw the elimination of the slots at race tracks program. The elimination of that program has also resonated throughout the rural areas of the GTA and Durham Region, where numerous horse farmers are now facing an uncertain future in their industry.
The cuts are estimated to save the province more than $1.3 billion.
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SCUGOG: Rural landowners in Scugog Township can expect a new mailbox if its knocked down by municipal snowplows - but only if its knocked down by the plow itself and not the snow pushed by the vehicle.
The new mailbox policy recently presented to councillors states that in such an event where a plow, but not the weight of snow pushed by the plow, pushes over a mailbox, the township will replace it with a standard metal mailbox.
The policy was developed following a request by Ward 4 Councillor Wilma Wotten, after several mailboxes in the township's eastern communities were knocked down by municipal plows earlier this winter.
The report states that by replacing only those boxes knocked down by a plow itself, the township will not have to account for mailboxes on 'deteriorated' posts that could easily be pushed over by the weight of snow.
The associated cost to replace the boxes is estimated as 'a few hundred dollars' annually.
In addition, approximately 100 mailboxes identified by township staff that have concrete or steel posts will need to be replaced prior to Oct. 1.
"If you're going to put an immovable object in the roadway, you're going to pay the township a substantial amount of insurance (in the event of a collision)," said Public Works Director Ian Roger. "Larger objects are easier to see for plow operators. But if a new driver on a route doesn't know the boxes, he could easily strike them."
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SCUGOG: Police are investigating an assault incident at a minor hockey game in Port Perry last week, after an altercation took place between a Scugog man and a 17-year-old referee at the Scugog Arena
The incident took place on Feb. 19, at a Port Perry Predators Novice AE playoff game against an Oshawa team at the local arena.
Police and witnesses allege that a verbal exchange between the referee and several parents, regarding calls made during the game, began inside the arena. According to police, one parent later threatened the ref and kicked his legs in the parking lot. The assault took place in front of several people, including children, said police.
One witness, who asked not to be identified, described the incident as "an inappropriate act by an adult.
"There were words exchanged by both sides," said the witness, "but then the adult started attacking this youth. Bullying like that is not acceptable, especially in front of kids. It was inappropriate for an adult to cross a line like that. We're supposed to be teaching our kids respect."
While similar incidents are sometimes reported elsewhere in Canada and the U.S. during hockey season, Port Perry Minor Hockey president Clair Cornish said that such an incident is "uncharted territory" for the local league.
"It's in the hands of the police and they'll deal with it as they see fit," said Mr. Cornish. "We have dealt with this as an association and supported the referee. We've never seen anything even remotely close to this at any of our games. In talking to arena staff, this incident is a first."
Police have charged Scugog resident Brad Fenney in connection with the incident. He was released on an undertaking with conditions, which includes a condition not to attend any organized youth sporting event.
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NORTH DURHAM: The Federal Elections Boundaries Commission appears to have listened to the concerns of North Durham residents in the wake of sweeping changes to proposed federal ridings released on Monday, Feb. 25.
The Commission drew criticism in August when it released draft plans for revised federal electoral districts that saw Uxbridge Township cut in half, while the rest of North Durham, including Scugog Township, was grouped in a riding proposed as 'Haliburton-Uxbridge' that bordered Algonquin Park to the north.
The Commission's original proposal would have also seen Uxbridge Township split, with the portion of the municipality that contains the hamlets of Zephyr, Sandford, Leaskdale and Udora joining the riding of York-Simcoe. That riding was to stretch from Uxbridge Township in the east to Bradford/West Gwillimbury in the west and also contain East Gwillimbury and Georgina Township.
However, when the Commission's updated proposal was made public on Monday, drastic changes were made to several Durham Region ridings.
Uxbridge will now remain intact, with the municipality joining the City of Pickering in the new electoral district of Pickering-Uxbridge.
The new riding will have a population of 109,344 putting it 2.95 per cent above the provincial quota for riding population.
As well, Scugog Township has been removed from its original riding and now is proposed to become part of the riding of Oshawa-Durham.
The move will see Scugog joined with the part of the City of Oshawa lying north of Taunton Rd., as well as the portion of the Municipality of Clarington lying west of Regional Rd. 42, Darlington-Clarke Townline and Darlington-Manvers Townline. The riding, as it currently stands, will have a population of 115,395, putting it 8.64 per cent above the provincial quota.
Brock Township will continue to join its neighbours to the north in making up the riding of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
The Commission's latest report has the majority of Durham Region contained within five districts with the addition of ridings of Oshawa, Whitby and Ajax, which was a recurring theme of comments made during the public consultation portion of the process of redrawing boundary lines.
Several Uxbridge Council members were vocal opponents to the original plan, with Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy as well as Ward 4's Jacob Mantle making presentations before the Commission at public meetings last fall.
Following the Commission's revised plans, Councillor Molloy was overjoyed that the concerns of the municipality had been both heard and addressed.
"It shows that it does pay to speak up," commented Councillor Molloy. "It's a great lesson that David can approach Goliath and be heard."
It was also noted that the new Pickering-Uxbridge riding is a manageable area, unlike the proposed Haliburton-Uxbridge Riding.
Councillor Mantle gave the Commission's revised plan his support when speaking with The Standard shortly after news broke of the revised riding boundaries. Prior to making his presentation in Oshawa this past November, a Commission member informed those present that Uxbridge would, in fact, be kept intact, setting the stage for Monday's announcement.
"I'm very pleased that they kept their promise that they made to me, along with municipal leaders from across Durham Region, that they were going to keep Uxbridge whole" Councillor Mantle told The Standard. "It's a big victory for Uxbridge and its residents, since having representatives from different ridings could have been very complicated."
However, Councillor Mantle did express some concerns about Uxbridge being paired with a large urban centre like Pickering.
"I do have some concerns that Uxbridge will be the small fish in a big pond, and once again Uxbridge might get left out. But hopefully whoever ends up being elected will give us our just due. In my mind, that was one of the benefits of the former riding because it paired two smaller rural ridings (Uxbridge and Scugog) with a larger centre (Clarington)," said Councillor Mantle.
Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier was also pleased with the new proposal, noting that Scugog already boasts a strong relationship with both north Oshawa and Clarington from an agricultural perspective.
"I think it's a really good fit Simcoe St. has long been referred to as the Oshawa road, and it'll provide a great link between the communities in the riding. My only issue is that I would've liked to see it called Oshawa-Scugog to maybe give some more recognition to our township in Ottawa," Mayor Mercier told The Standard.
The new ridings are expected to take effect for the federal election scheduled to take place in the fall of 2015.
A full copy of the Commission's latest proposal, along with maps of the proposed ridings can be viewed at www.federal-redistribution.ca.
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SCUGOG: The doors of Cartwright High School will be closed for the last time this June, following a vote by Durham District School Board trustees during an at-times emotional meeting at DDSB headquarters in Whitby.
Students, parents and neighbours of the Blackstock school attended the Feb. 19 meeting, where the fate of the small rural high school was ultimately decided. Trustees voted 10-1 in favour of a staff recommendation to close the school this June and amalgamate the student body with Port Perry High School in September. Scugog trustee Carolyn Morton was the lone holdout, submitting a motion (later defeated) to defer the decision for one year to allow trustees time to consider other options for the school's future, such as an agriculture-based curriculum with e-learning options, as proposed by representatives from Scugog Council earlier this month.
"Agriculture is an important industry in our province and it's always changing with new advances," said Trustee Morton in her motion. "It employs hundreds of thousands of people and generates $33 billion to economy. Government is willing to invest in the community, and local farmers are as well, but we need more time to research this approach."
The final motion was the culmination of more than a year's worth of Accommodation Review Committee meetings, including several heated public meetings in Port Perry and Blackstock. Once again, figures related to repair costs presented by school board staff were questioned by several attendees. A comment by superintendent David Visser, who said that $3.9 million in repairs (including improvements making the 100-year-old building fully accessible) would be required at a facility valued at $1.9 million, was met with laughter from several of the audience members in attendance.
According to Mr. Visser, the DDSB will determine what will happen to the building later this year, adding that it could be deemed surplus and sold to any number of purchasers, such as the Township of Scugog or other school boards.
DDSB Chair and Uxbridge/Brock trustee Joe Allin questioned the timing of the Scugog proposals so late in the ARC process. In his address to the board, he also denied being quoted as saying he has been "waiting for five years to close this school" as stated by supporters of CHS.
"Only lately, there's been an acceptance that the status quo is not sustainable, with a bunch of alternatives submitted that were already put forward, such as the notion of e-learning" said the trustee. "We've heard from the community about having a school within a school and an agri-science program at CHS. I would suggest that type of program is not innovative because it's already at one of our other schools. If you're going to explore an innovative idea, I would suggest you speak to those people, not the council chamber of Port Perry.... If there was a need for this type of program, what makes it something that could only be offered at CHS? The timing is suspect - why wasn't it talked about at the outset? The ARC moved away from those ideas. If the township saw a need for this program, they had other opportunities to propose it."
However, additional comments by Mr. Allin were seen as insulting by local residents.
"The library is an embarrassment," he said. "I can't imagine a CHS student going to the University of Toronto library and feeling comfortable.... I've also heard about the outstanding arts program at CHS - but when I attended the McLaughlin gallery last fall, I noted one school was not represented. Cartwright wasn't at the Sunderland Lions Club Musicfest, either."
Student Cullen Owtrim told The Standard that only a handful of CHS students currently drive, raising the issue of transportation to PPHS. He added that Mr. Allin's view of the school was somewhat hypocritical.
"They say our programs are good, but as soon as money's an issue, they say something else," he said.
Former Scugog DDSB trustee Joyce Kelly said she was "terribly disappointed" with the decision, after telling The Standard prior to the meeting that there was no indication from trustees which way the vote would go.
"I don't know if we're here for a wake or a hootenany," said Ms. Kelly prior to the decision.
Scugog councillor Wilma Wotten, who has been a vocal supporter of keeping the school open, shared Ms. Kelly's opinion, adding that "disrespectful" comments by Mr. Allin were not needed.
Supporter Melanie Wright added "they say the library is shameful, but it's not our fault - it's theirs (the DDSB)."
Blackstock resident Patti Alpe also expressed disillusionment with the ARC process.
"A year ago," she said, "everyone was asking if this was a done deal. The board said it wasn't, but there's been no change since day one."
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UXBRIDGE:A popular tri-annual event returns to Uxbridge this weekend, when the Quilter's Cupboard hosts a quilting marathon.
The event is set to begin at 8 a.m. on Friday, March 1, and runs until 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 2, with proceeds raised going towards cancer support.
Quilter's Cupboard owner Sue Carmichael noted that the event, which is returning for a third go-round, and runs every three years, has in its first two incarnations raised over $70,000.
This year, organizers hope to raise $40,000 to benefit Hearth Place, an Oshawa program that offers support to cancer patients and their families.
Once the quilters are done their weekend projects, according to Ms. Carmichael, two queen sized quilts will then be raffled off by local charities so that the event can raise even more money for local initiatives.
It was also noted by Ms. Carmichael that community members wishing to take part in the marathon are welcome and donations can be made at the Quilter's Cupboard, located at 202 Brock St. East.
And novice quilters need not worry as Ms. Carmichael added that "there will be a nice fresh box of band-aids on site."
As well, there will be a number of draws and prizes to be won over the course of the 30-hour event.
"We have more prizes and donations than you can shake a stick at," said Ms. Carmichael.
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NORTH DURHAM: There are big plans in place for Greenbank Airport, said facility manager John Packer to members of the Scugog Chamber of Commerce, including such possibilities as a Canadian military museum and hotel.
However, he stressed everything is still "very preliminary."
During a recent breakfast meeting, Mr. Packer led Chamber members through an outline of what the rural aviation facility may eventually encompass in the coming years. While soil importation has only begun relatively recently, airport officials are already looking at a number of ambitious proposals.
Among those, said Mr. Packer, is the possibility of an interactive Canadian military museum, an idea which he said was brought to the facility by local history teacher Dave Robinson. Airport owner Bob Munshaw was recently recognized for his involvement in promoting Canadian military history with a Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal. Other possibilities described by Mr. Packer are a 125-room hotel and business centre on the property.
Plans previously discussed that are still on the board include flight training schools and new hangar buildings for planes.
However, ambitious plans such as the museum and hotel are only in the discussion stage, said Mr. Packer, and would only begin to take shape after enough soil has been imported to the property - roughly a year or so after the filling aspect of the expansion is completed, he said.
"We have plans to move forward," said Mr. Packer, "because there's no sense in stopping. We're open to everything, but we're not saying 'yes' just yet."
In regards to the proposed hotel, Mr. Packer said that "I'm not saying we're definitely doing it, but we are looking at it," citing a municipal hotel feasibility study.
With the purchase of an adjacent farm property, Mr. Packer also acknowledged that this could open the door to larger planes landing at the facility - a concern noted by residents at the February 2012 open house. He added that the airport "will not be running all night long."
The airport expansion project came to light in February 2012, after a public open house for the airport was advertised, announcing the new owner's intent to begin hauling in soil almost immediately - a 2-3 year project requiring 2.5 million cubic metres of earth to raise the grade of the property for the proposed runway extension.
The work plan was delayed for several months, however, as the airport and the Township of Scugog began negotiating the terms of a municipal site alteration permit, including a financial provision of $1 per cubic metre and requirements for soil sampling. The process slowed further as Regional and provincial permits became required for the project.
Throughout the whole process, the notion of another large-scale commercial fill operation within Scugog drew environmental and quality-of-life concerns from local residents.
This week, Scugog Council approved a six-month extension of the airport's municipal site alteration permit, a report accompanied by several letters from residents opposing the permit extension due to issues such as increased truck traffic and noise (particularly before the site's approved hours of operation, allege some of the letters), as well as the potential for adverse environmental impacts. Responding to council inquiries, Public Works director Ian Roger stated that it's unlikely that more than a handful of trucks bound for the airport travel to the site before work hours, adding that it's unknown whether or not those trucks are even traveling to the Hwy. 47 property.
"With Buttonville closing soon, airports will be trying to get business," said Mr. Packer at the Feb. 28 meeting, "and sometimes, there are other business opportunities. We've started in that direction and will continue that way. Everything is very preliminary but we are working toward it.... This is not something that will go sideways - it will be viable all the way through."
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SCUGOG: An Oshawa angler remains on the hook for a bill of almost $5,400, after Scugog Council declined to cancel an invoice for the cost of his January rescue from Lake Scugog.
Neil Robbescheuten appeared before council on March 4 to appeal the bill, issued to him by the Scugog Fire Department after he was pulled from the mud off of the northeastern shore of Scugog Island on Jan. 13. The rescue, the first to be billed under Scugog's new ice rescue cost recovery program, took place as temperatures climbed to nearly 15 degrees in the area and has since gained national media attention.
"I do not believe that Scugog Council, at the time of passing this motion (to bill for ice rescues), realized the impact of this decision," said Mr. Robbescheuten in his lengthy presentation to councillors. During his appeal, he reiterated issues such as the potential for increased municipal liability should distressed individuals decline to call emergency services in Scugog, out of fear of receiving an invoice. "I can't imagine that the Mayor and council would jeopardize the recovery efforts of its citizens and visitors…. When we call 911, we do not want to think about whether we can afford the $5,000 or more."
During a February council meeting, Scugog Fire Chief Richard Miller outlined the response that took place at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 13, which saw three trucks (with one on standby) and numerous firefighters respond to Mr. Robbecheuten's call. The scenario was recalled at this week's council meeting.
Firefighters pulled the angler from the mud off of the island's northern shore, after Mr. Robbescheuten, who maintained that ice conditions were "perfect" that day, became disoriented in the incoming fog and wandered toward land, falling through a weak patch of ice.
After his rescue, the chief said that Mr. Robbescheuten complied with a request from firefighters for his name and address for billing purposes. Three days later, he was sent a bill for $5,392.78, covering the costs of trucks and firefighters.
Chief Miller said that the cost also included equipment cleaning expenses for water suits and ropes that became encrusted with mud during the rescue.
The chief explained that the department's standard operating policy requires several trucks to respond to ice and water rescues, so that a distressed individual could be more easily located. A standby truck was stationed along Hwy. 7A in case another emergency incident took place elsewhere in the township during the call, said Chief Miller.
"We may have to split up trucks to find a person," said the chief in February, adding that 15 volunteer firefighters initially responded to the call. "The minimum payment is one hour per pay for firefighters, whether its 15 or 59 minutes."
Clarifying the matter for councillors this week, Chief Miller said that while the fire department does currently conduct ice and water rescues, they are bound only by the will of council to undertake such operations.
"Council gives the fire department the mandate to provide ice and water rescue on the lake - we don't have to do it," said the chief. "Council could rescind it if they want. Police and EMS will not go on the lake to do ice rescues. The fire department doesn't have to do it, but we do because the township surrounds the lake."
Scugog councillors offered little sympathy for Mr. Robbescheuten's plight, with members reiterating that it appeared the angler declined to accept any 'personal responsibility' for venturing alone onto the ice as temperatures climbed, with several warnings posted by organizations such as the Kawartha Conservation Authority in the days leading up to the rescue. Several times during the presentation, Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier called for order following comments from audience members gathered in support of Mr. Robbescheuten.
"Everyone has a right to enjoy life and make mistakes, but it's what you do after that counts," said the mayor. "We all agree that this story has created full awareness of how dangerous ice can be and it may have saved lives. You've not convinced me that going out on the lake that day was a wise choice. If your three grandchildren were going out that day, you would have told them not to."
While Mr. Robbescheuten said that although the billing has been "devastating," it has not changed his opinion of ice-fishing on Lake Scugog or any other body of water.
"I'm disappointed they haven't rescinded the bill," he said. "User fees will still be in effect and will set a precedent - emergency services are already paid for by tax dollars. I'm devastated that it (the billing) took place without anyone knowing. No one told me about it - there's nothing anywhere about any fees. It's inconsistent - one municipality may charge while another may not."
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UXBRIDGE: The first steps in the possible sale of a pair of township-owned community halls were taken this week, with council approving appraisals of the properties.
At their meeting on the morning of Monday, March 4, township staff were given the go-ahead by councillors to proceed with appraisals of both the Siloam Hall and the Goodwood Lions Hall.
The total expenditure for the project is not to exceed $5,000.
During discussion surrounding the project, Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse brought forward a possible future use for the properties.
"This is an opportunity for a non-for-profit user group to possibly look at taking it over, if they wish," said Councillor Mikuse. "Celebration of the Arts has been looking for a home for some time and they could utilize the space for a gallery, or possibly rehearsal space."
However, Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger suggested that all Uxbridge groups be given the opportunity to explore moving into one of the buildings the township may be selling in the future.
"We have to be careful here, and if we offer it to one user group, we should offer it to all of them," commented Councillor Ballinger.
Plans to sell the Goodwood Lions Hall may be slowed due to the outstanding issue of a crash wall possibly being installed on the north side of the property, which sits mere feet from railroad tracks. Township staff have been in contact with Metrolinx/GO Transit, but, to date, have not received a reply from the provincial agency regarding the issue.
Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis added that user groups should be made aware of the annual maintenance costs that come with owning such a facility.
"These groups need to know that these halls could cost up to $20,000 a year for upkeep," said Ms. Svelnis.
According to township staff, the appraisal process typically takes two weeks to complete.
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SCUGOG: Following a recent assault incident involving a minor hockey referee and the parent of a player at the Scugog Arena, the Port Perry Minor Hockey Association has suspended the 17-year-old official as well as another parent who confronted the youth earlier that night.
PPMHA president Clair Cornish confirmed that the league had suspended the youth after receiving complaints about "the ref's conduct" on the evening of the incident. In addition to the young referee, Mr. Cornish said that the league has also suspended the other parent involved in the verbal confrontation which preceded the assault.
"This is normal procedure in such an incident," said Mr. Cornish, adding that the Ontario Minor Hockey Association may become involved in handling the ref's suspension. "However, we haven't had much precedent to go by."
The assault took place on Feb. 19, at a Port Perry Predators Novice AE playoff game against an Oshawa team at the local arena.
According to police, a verbal exchange between the referee and two parents of Port Perry players began inside the arena, regarding calls made by the ref during the game. Police said that one of those parents later threatened the ref and kicked his legs in the parking lot. The assault took place in front of several people, including children, said police.
Last week, police charged Scugog resident Brad Fenney in connection with the Feb. 19 assault.
Mr. Cornish also confirmed for The Standard that some of the parents of this particular team – none of which were involved in the Feb. 19 incidents – were previously cautioned in December for their conduct during games, following a number of complaints made by arena users last fall. However, he added that those particular complaints were related to matters such as the volume of cheering as opposed to any physical or verbal confrontations.
"It's up to interpretation," said Mr. Cornish of those complaints made against the team's parents in 2012. "Some might be surprised, but others may say it's just hockey."
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UXBRIDGE: This year's CMX motocross event will have a slightly different look following several recommendations put forth recently by council.
At their meeting on the morning of Monday, March 4, councillors agreed on a number of changes to the event, which is scheduled to be run on Sunday, July 21, at the Dillon farm in Zephyr.
While council has relaxed several of the conditions put forth surrounding last year's inaugural event, not all of Mr. Dillon's requests for this year's event were approved for this year's batch of races.
This year's motocross event will play out in front of a larger audience after councillors agreed to double last year's capacity, allowing 2,000 people to take in the event.
Also, race organizers will now have to carry the standard $5 million insurance policy, a drastic reduction from the $10 million the township requested last year.
According to Township Clerk Debbie Leroux, the previous $10 million policy - double what is required of the annual Indycar race in Toronto - came through a recommendation from the Durham Region Insurance Pool.
Furthermore, councillors denied Mr. Dillon's request to have camping on his property on Friday night to accommodate out-of-town riders. Instead, camping will only be permitted on Saturday night (July 20).
As well, the practice session for the weekend will be limited to between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday.
"I don't see the need for camping on Friday night. Practice starts on Saturday afternoon, giving them plenty of time for practice," said Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse.
Councillors also took Mr. Dillon up on his pledge to once again not have any weekend motocross riding at his property in the months of July and August in exchange for being able to host the lone motocross event in Uxbridge Township.
Part of Mr. Dillon's reason for bringing this event to Zephyr was to aid in local initiatives.
After donating revenues from last year's race to the Uxbridge Cottage Hospital, Mr. Dillon has indicated that proceeds from this year's race will be going towards improvements at the Zephyr Community Hall and Park.
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UXBRIDGE: Township is advising residents to be aware of fill regulations, in light of a flyer recently distributed throughout the township soliciting fill sites.
According to township staff, a flyer was recently distributed to most rural mailboxes in Uxbridge Township seeking fill sites for a variety of uses.
The flyer advises residents that the company - Millennium Earth Works from Woodbridge - has an 'excess of clean, environmentally-certified soil' and requires suitable filling locations.
The company claims to offer services at no cost to the property owner, and that a per-load fee would be offered to the property owner depending on the volume of soil imported.
According to Millennium Earth Works, a minimum of 50 loads are needed to apply for this service.
Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis spoke to The Standard regarding what is required under the township's site alteration by-law.
"People will require a fill permit for the quantities they speak to and permits would need to be obtained from the Township of Uxbridge for land not regulated and from the Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority for lands in the regulated area," Ms. Svelnis explained.
Without the proper permits in place, property owners could unknowingly be exposing themselves to undue hardships should authorities become aware of improper filling activities on their property.
"Unfortunately, without a permit people will find themselves being caught and as the property owner they are responsible and it would be a shame if people think that getting a flyer means all is well." Ms. Svelnis added.
It was further explained by Ms. Svelnis that for township-controlled properties, anything over five loads of fill requires a permit from the municipality. Anything greater than 10 loads of fill will require approval from Council.
The issue of commercial fill was hotly debated during the 2010 municipal election, with the majority of councillors voicing their opposition to such sites springing up throughout the township without proper guidelines in place from provincial agencies, such as the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources.
It's unknown whether a connection exists between Millennium Earth Works and Earthworx Industries, the company which operated the Lakeridge Rd. fill site in Scugog Township, which brought the issue of commercial fill to the attention of the province in 2010. That site was shut down in 2011 following a lengthy court battle between the business and Scugog, in which a provincial tribunal ruled in the township's favour by declaring that Earthworx was operating a fill site and not engaged in the construction of a rural airport as the owner had argued.
"To leave all of the monitoring of commercial fill sites on the backs of the lowest tier of government who does not have the expertise or the resources to properly monitor what is coming into these sites, is not something that I am interested in bringing to this township. I don't want to be a part of something that could potentially poison our water," said Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor. "No one wants another Walkerton, which would of course be the worst case scenario."
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SCUGOG: A recent arbitration award for Scugog's full-time firefighters, including a pay increase and recommendation for a four-day work schedule, has prompted a 'complete operational and organization review' of the township's fire department.
A report by Fire Chief Richard Miller on the award, announced last month after more than a year of waiting for the township, was recently presented to Scugog councillors. According to the report, the award, which covers the period between 2009 and 2012, provides for a salary increase every six months retroactive to January 1, 2009. Scugog's full-time firefighters announced that they had become affiliated with the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) and Ontario Professional Firefighters Association in October 2008, creating the Scugog Professional Firefighters Association IAFF Local 4679.
Following a wage freeze in 2009 due to the bargaining process, the township provided firefighters with an interim pay increase of eight per cent (retroactive to 2009 wages) in May 2011, equal to just over $32,000. The remainder of the retroactive wages to be paid out will have an additional impact of $100,000 on the township's bottom line in 2013, in addition to expenses such as benefits and pension payments. The report states that the total wage increase would amount to a 26.7 per cent jump for a first-class firefighter - from $63,500 in 2008 to $80,440 in 2012.
Chief Fire Prevention Officer Gord Gettins would also receive an additional three per cent of salary in the form of 'recognition pay,' based on years of service, with two more firefighters set to receive the recognition pay beginning in October.
In addition to pay, the award also directs the department to implement a four-day work schedule for full-time firefighters.
Both considerations will 'significantly affect the fire department budget, both the full-time payroll accounts and the volunteer response account line,' said Chief Miller in his report, adding that a 'complete operational and organizational review' will be undertaken by the department to determine efficiencies.
The chief and councillors were also critical of the length of time it took for an award to be determined by the arbitrator.
"We were supposed to have an award within six months – it took over a year for us," said Chief Miller. "It's a broken system and needs to be fixed.... (But) now we have to take that next step and look at what we do and how we do it. We need to look at what system serves us best and how to keep our residents safe."
Added Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew:
"I hold our full-time firefighters in the highest esteem, but AMO has been lobbying for years to look at the arbitration system and the municipal ability to pay," said the councillor. "I find it inexcusable that an arbitrator would take 13 months to come to a decision with no rationale. This will create a ripple effect for our system as well as in the other North Durham municipalities and beyond. It has great ramifications and this is causing great concerns."
Mayor Chuck Mercier added that he is critical of the arbitration process "inching" into the department's operational structure, as well as the lack of rationale provided for the award.
"This award will limit our ability to have full-time firefighters cover off for volunteers during the days – there are safety issues," said the mayor. "Situations like this cause us to take a step back and say 'can we be better?'"
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NORTH DURHAM: In the wake of the latest redrawing of Ontario's federal election ridings, Durham's newest MP is seeking feedback from his constituents on the proposed changes and what they could mean for residents.
Durham riding MP Erin O'Toole recently launched a constituency survey regarding the proposed changes to the riding, which currently encompasses the municipalities of Scugog, Uxbridge and Clarington. The proposed changes, which would be in effect for the 2015 federal vote, would see Uxbridge paired with the City of Pickering in Pickering-Uxbridge, while Scugog, along with a sliver of Clarington, would be grouped with the northern reaches of the City of Oshawa into the Oshawa-Durham riding.
These latest changes were announced in late February, months after Durham politicians lobbied the riding redistribution commission in November to reconsider its original proposal for the Region, which would have seen half of Uxbridge, along with Scugog and Brock, lumped into a monster 'Haliburton-Uxbridge' riding that would have stretched to the southern limits of Algonquin Park.
The survey, which is open until March 22, can be found at www.erinotoolemp.ca/ridingsurvey. In addition to the web site, residents can also call the local constituency office at 905-697-1699 or drop by at 54 King St. E. in Bowmanville.
According to Mr. O'Toole, the majority of concern so far has come from residents of Uxbridge and Clarington, the latter of which will be subdivided even further, with the remainder of that municipality to be linked with Northumberland. Although he anticipates few, if any, changes to the new ridings as they are currently proposed, Mr. O'Toole said that through the survey, he hopes to gain a better opinion of the riding's residents prior to the commission's report going before Parliament this spring.
Mr. O'Toole added that come election time in 2015, he would run in the proposed Oshawa-Durham riding.
"It's clear that the commission did learn from the appeals (by Durham politicians and residents) in November, but there are still questions about the changes," said Mr. O'Toole, adding that concerns have ranged from the urban-rural divide posed by the Pickering-Uxbridge riding, to the absence of Scugog's name in the title of Oshawa-Durham.
"I think the commission tried to address all the concerns received and overall, they listened to what Durham had to say. They've done a decent job, however, it would have been nice to see Clarington remain whole."
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UXBRIDGE: Residents got their first glimpse of Uxbridge's proposed new aquatic centre at council's meeting on the evening of Monday, March 25.
Following a short presentation from Amanda Ferraro, the township's Manager of Recreation, Culture and Tourism, architect Robert Allen gave a detailed look at the facility, which is slated to be installed at the Kennedy House lands, near the corner of Main St. N. and Ball Rd.
A wide range of pool users packed council chambers as they waited anxiously for details of the new pool.
According to Mr. Allen, the building will occupy nearly 26,000 square feet with 11,500 square feet reserved for the pool area. In addition to a six lane pool, the facility will also feature a leisure pool as well as a multi-use athletic area, which Mr. Allen explained could be used for a variety of purposes such as volleyball, floor hockey and badminton.
There would also be capacity for 500 people in fixed bleachers in the pool area.
Among the concerns raised by users was that a six-lane pool may not suit the needs of the municipality in the future, leading many to push for an eight lane pool.
"One of the things we heard from user groups, especially the Swim Club, was a desire for an eight-lane pool," Mr. Allen explained. "That can fit into the plans, but carries an extra cost of $1.3 to $1.5 million. But, plans indicate that we could do that with this pool."
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger later endorsed plans for an eight lane pool, not wanting to undertake a costly expansion in the future.
"The arena was built on Brock St. W. in 1978, and less than 20 years later we had to expand it. It makes sense that the expansion be done now so you don't have to go back," commented Councillor Ballinger. "It's not like the extra lanes are going to go bad. If you're going to build it, build it right the first time so you don't have to go back."
Currently, construction costs for the new aquatic centre are estimated at $10 million, with another $2 million set aside for other expenses such as site servicing.
"Currently we only have $4 million, but we are looking for funding to get to the $12 million mark," Ms. Ferraro explained.
The lone change from the Kennedy House Master Plan to the current project relates to parking as plans now call for a shared lot to be placed between the aquatic centre and the skate park.
Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse raised concerns over the amount of parking spaces - 90 spaces are currently proposed for the lot - and Mr. Allen agreed that parking often presents issues in projects of this nature.
"Parking is a big issue. You never want to build too much or too little," said Mr. Allen, adding that overflow lots could be added to enhance parking if large events are taking place at the aquatic centre.
Mr. Allen went on to add that operating expenses for similar sized facilities typically come in at around $600,000 annually, although that figure is dependant on other factors such as wages and programs offered.
More public discussions are expected to follow any grant approvals, with the pool expected to be operational by 2015.
"We have designed a pool that is well within the financial framework available, by no means is this going to be some sort of Taj Mahal," added Mr. Allen.
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NORTH DURHAM: Although the Lakeridge Rd. property at the centre of the commercial fill debate in Durham Region remains dormant, talk of the site's clean-up and possible reactivation returned to Scugog Council, nearly three years after the issue was initially brought into the spotlight.
According to a presentation to Scugog Council by community group Lakeridge Citizens for Clean Water (LCCW), work is progressing on a bid by Green For Life Environmental Corporation (GFL) to acquire the Earthworx Industries property at 13471 Lakeridge Rd. (located within the Oak Ridges Moraine) to re-open it as a fill receiving site. GFL is the Pickering-based waste remediation company which has been involved in numerous developments along Toronto's waterfront, treating excavated soil for contaminants before its shipped to receiving sites. According to a document in the LCCW presentation – dated Jan. 18, 2013, and addressed to the Ministry of the Environment - the proposal by GFL to acquire the property was originally discussed in June 2011.
At the township's Large-Scale Fill Symposium on Jan. 25, GFL CEO Patrick Dovigi told the audience that if a proposal - he declined to name the interested party - to acquire the property from Earthworx Industries went through, GFL has agreed to help clean up the property. However, what the clean-up would entail was not explained at the meeting, nor did he mention at the time that it was GFL that was planning to acquire the property to re-activate it as a fill receiving site.
Mr. Dovigi declined to comment on GFL's bid to purchase the Lakeridge Rd. property.
GFL/Direct Line's Pickering location is where trucks, hauling from former industrial sites on the Toronto waterfront, were sent for soil treatment prior to hauling the dirt to the same fill site on Lakeridge Rd. when it was operated by Earthworx Industries. According to a statement by the Ministry of the Environment dated April 12, 2011, 'Direct Line began accepting soils in June 2010 and shipped treated soils to Earthworx beginning in September 2010.'
The Lakeridge Rd. site was shut down in 2011 following a lengthy court battle between Earthworx and Scugog, in which a provincial tribunal ruled in the township's favour by declaring that the operation was subject to municipal bylaws. Earthworx continued dumping after its municipal site alteration permit was revoked by the township in October 2010, after soil samples from the site tested positive for excessive amounts of certain contaminants.
It's unknown whether or not GFL/Direct Line would have received any of the soil placed at the Earthworx site that tested positive for those chemicals in 2010. However, Pickering resident Gord Hamilton has been dealing with problems on his Sideline 14 property, after he received soil, shipped to his property by Earthworx Industries in 2011, which he was told had been treated at GFL. He later found the soil to be contaminated with gasoline several times the accepted provincial limit.
Yet another fill project supplied by GFL, this one in Oakwood, Ontario, was shut down by City of Kawartha Lakes Council in July 2012, after soil tests revealed excessive levels of chemical contamination, including hydrocarbons and heavy metals.
GFL is also one of the sources of soil for the expansion plans at the Greenbank Airport, owned by Green For Life's Bob Munshaw. To date, no adverse findings have been recorded at that site.
The GFL proposal has drawn criticism from the LCCW, which formed shortly after the Lakeridge Rd. site was first in operation in 2010. According to LCCW spokesperson Carmela Marshall, the group contends that a reactivation of the permit would contravene the township's site alteration bylaw, which prohibits site alteration within the Oak Ridges Moraine unless an applicant can demonstrate that the work is permitted by the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP). Ms. Marshall said that in addition to municipal legislation, the ORMCP dictates that 'the portion of the net developable area of the site that is disturbed to be not more than 50 per cent of the total area of the site,' which may exclude the site from re-activation.
"LCCW (Lakeridge Citizens for Clean Water) believes that the significant contamination on this site must be cleaned up and believes that there are viable options to make this happen," said Ms. Marshall, who spoke to the matter at Scugog Council's March 25 meeting. "However, issuing a fill permit to import more dirt in order for the necessary remediation to happen is absolutely not one of these options. A site-alteration permit to further fill this site would be contrary to the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Scugog by-law, as well as irresponsible and unethical."
"The proposed cleanup still leaves the site with contamination that exceeds today's soil standards for an industrial land use in an area where the groundwater isn't used for drinking," added LCCW spokesperson Ian McLaurin, "but this site is next to the Natural Core Area of the Oak Ridges Moraine and people drink from wells only one-third of a kilometre away. For example, the cleanup leaves in place soil where borehole samples had levels of free cyanide 100 times the standards set by MOE in 2011."
At the recent council meeting, Scugog CAO Bev Hendry told councillors that the township will meet with representatives from the MOE on April 16 regarding the status of the site.
Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier added that while the township was previously informed of the intent for GFL to acquire the property - via the letter from GFL sent to the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) regarding the site - a formal application for a municipal site alteration bylaw, as well as the MOE's assessment of the clean-up, is yet to come forward. Until that time, Mayor Mercier said that the township is considering the site a "work in progress," albeit one watched closely, particularly regarding the clean-up.
"Without the MOE's input, the correspondence doesn't really mean anything," said the mayor. "We have a strong position on managing commercial fill and a strong position on cleaning up the (Earthworx) site... (But) we're still unaware of the scope of the clean-up, and until then, there's nothing happening."
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NORTH DURHAM: Moving forward with their goal of reducing the country's $25.9 billion federal deficit by 2015, the Harper Conservatives presented a frugal federal budget last week.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty presented the latest budget on Friday, March 21, featuring support for Ontario's struggling manufacturing sector, modest spending, cuts to government departments as well as a clampdown on tax evasion.
The most promising news for municipal leaders was likely the commitment from the Harper government to renew the Building Canada Fund, which will provide almost $14 billion to municipalities for the repair of transit systems, bridges and other infrastructure projects over the next ten years.
As well, with over one million Canadians currently unemployed, an expanded skills training initiative will rely on assistance from the province and employers.
Through the Canada Jobs Grant, the federal government will provide up to $5,000 for job training with the province and employers making matching contributions in an effort to upgrade the job skills of Canadians.
The program is not slated to begin until 2014, and will depend on successful negotiations between Ottawa and the provinces.
With Ontario's manufacturing industry still lagging, the new budget features spending aimed at easing the tough times faced by the industry in recent years, hopefully spurring new investment in industry.
The budget includes $920 million over the course of five years for the renewal of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Since 2009, almost 350 projects in Southern Ontario have received funding through the agency. There will also be $200 million allocated over the next five years through the Advanced Manufacturing Fund which aims to promote innovative product development or production methods in Ontario.
There is also $1.4 billion in tax relief for manufacturers for the purchase of new equipment and machinery.
Durham MP Erin O'Toole lauded the budget's commitment to job creation as well as a balance between spending cuts and higher taxes.
"Despite a challenging global economy, Canada has the best job creation record among all G-7 countries and with this budget we are renewing our focus on job creation to build upon the 950,000 net new jobs since the end of the recession" O'Toole said in a press release. "This budget strikes a careful balance to create jobs and eliminate our deficit without raising taxes for families or seniors."
As well, the budget could mean some items may be available for less with international tariffs removed from items including baby clothing and sports equipment.
The government will look to close tax loopholes in an effort to boost government coffers. The new measure includes paying tipsters who report tax cheats.
Disabled, ill and aging veterans will benefit from a $1.9 billion investment in the Funeral and Burial Program, which is also known as the "Last Post Fund."
And, in a measure to provide better weather forecasting, Environment Canada will receive $248 million over the next five years to improve weather monitoring equipment across the country in an effort to provide more accurate and timely weather forecasts and warnings.
Since 2010, Conservatives have cut federal spending by $15 billion, with an eye towards a balanced budget by 2015, which should coincide with the next federal election.
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NORTH DURHAM: Uxbridge Secondary School tied for the top rank amongst Durham Region high schools in the latest Fraser Institute rankings released earlier this month.
Uxbridge tied with Whitby's Sinclair Secondary School for top marks amongst area schools with matching 7.6 academic performance rankings, ranking 121 out of 725 Ontario High Schools.
Port Perry tied with Whitby's All Saints Catholic Secondary School for third place amongst Durham Schools, with an academic performance ranking of 7.1, 193 out of 725 province-wide.
Although Brock High School place near the bottom of Durham schools with a 4.8 academic performance ranking, it was still well above the Institute's red zone for schools with rankings of 2.4 and under. Oshawa's GL Roberts CVI ranked lowest in Durham with an academic performance ranking of 2.9, scoring 687 out of 725 schools.
Low scores don't necessarily mean bad news, as Fraser Institute director of school performance studies Peter Cowley explained.
"Every school is capable of improvement, regardless of its geographic or socioeconomic challenges," said Mr. Cowley. "With individual school results going back five years, the annual school rankings help parents and educators measure improvement in specific subject areas and prioritize improvement plans for the year ahead."
Uxbridge's St. Joseph Catholic School placed fifth amongst Durham schools in The Institute's elementary school rankings, which were released in February.
Among Scugog Township elementary schools, Prince Albert and Greenbank/Epsom shared top honours, with both schools scoring a 7.8 academic performance ranking.
The Institute's Report Card on Ontario's Secondary Schools rates public, private, and Catholic secondary schools based on seven academic indicators using data from the annual province-wide tests of literacy and math managed by Ontario's Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).
The report card also includes important information about each school's make-up, including parents' average income, the percentage of ESL students, and the percentage of special needs students.
The complete results for all 725 secondary schools are available at www.compareschoolrankings.org.
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UXBRIDGE: Not all members of Uxbridge Council were buying what the Region was selling recently, when the North Durham Economic Development Strategy was recently unveiled.
The report, which as Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis explained, is part of the North Durham Integrated Sustainability Plan shared between Uxbridge, Scugog and Brock, contains several recommendations to aid the municipalities in building vibrant and resilient local economies.
However, some members of council saw it mostly as a "make-work" project.
"If we are going to do something we should be looking at doing our part, on our properties, like improving downtown parking and lighting," said Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy. "We could also clean up the parking lot behind Coffee Time to maybe make it more attractive to businesses. But this report seems like a make-work project to me."
Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle shared many of Councillor Molloy's sentiments, and stated that he felt the township's energy may be better spent on other areas of economic development.
"As council, we simply create an atmosphere. Government doesn't bring business to town. In terms of implementation, some of these things go beyond our reach, and I really question just how effective this document will be," commented Councillor Mantle. "Our energies might be better spent on things that we know work."
Later, Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast commented that many of the recommendations brought forth by a group of visitors from Shelburne in the summer of 2011, still haven't been implemented. Councillor Northeast argued that the township was perhaps best served by implementing some of those recommendations, such as establishing a tourism centre and improved signage for township facilities before tackling this economic development plan.
However, Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor countered that many of those recommendations will be carried out, and later defended the plan to her fellow councillors.
"Major things recommended by visitors have been dealt with through the 2013 budget, which we just finished passing," countered Mayor O'Connor. "Something like this is really healthy for the three North Durham municipalities."
In spite of the passionate appeal from Mayor O'Connor, Councillor Molloy remained skeptical of the report, referring to it as "tripe," and urging councillors to come up with their own solutions for attracting and retaining businesses.
"We have to fix our own house, and rather than wait for some magical answer, we need to get to work ourselves," said Councillor Molloy.
"We have to have money to fix our own house," responded Mayor O'Connor.
After being presented to the three North Durham municipalities, the Economic Development Strategy will now be refined through stakeholder consultation before the final strategy and action plan is returned to Council in June of this year.
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SCUGOG: Residents of one Scugog neighbourhood are on guard following several recent vehicle break-ins and, in one case, a vehicle theft, in the community of Blackstock.
According to residents, the incidents took place on the weekend of March 23-24, during which vehicles in the Sunrise Dr./Crestview Dr. neighbourhood were entered and various items stolen, including GPS units and DVD players. A pick-up truck was also taken from the driveway of a local home.
According to DRPS spokesperson Jodi Maclean, the truck was reportedly stolen between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m. on March 24, and was later recovered the following morning nearby. She added that although the other vehicle entries took place that same weekend, police are treating the incidents as unrelated.
There have been no arrests made in connection with any of the incidents, nor have any of the stolen items been recovered, said Ms. Maclean.
This isn't the first time that residents of the neighbourhood have been victims of theft. Last August, a number of vehicles were entered and items stolen.
The thefts have hit home especially hard for one local family, who lost a number of items, including an in-vehicle DVD player and iPod, owned by a young family member with autism. Interestingly, the family said that a wallet left in one of the vehicles was untouched.
The family, who asked not to be identified, even took to putting up signs around the community advising neighbours of the thefts and asking for the return of the boy's belongings.
One sign, placed at the end of the driveway to the family's home, was later ripped down.
As of yet, none of the items have been returned.
"We're checking Kijiji everyday (to see if the items are up for sale)," said one family member, who asked to not be named.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Durham Regional Police Services at 905-579-1520, ext. 2672. Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or on the web site at www.durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca and tipsters are eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.
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SCUGOG: Following a February decision by Durham District School Board trustees to close Cartwright High School in Blackstock, the school community has banded together again to urge the province to take a second look at the process and rationale behind the facility's looming closure.
A group of local residents recently called on the Ministry of Education to undertake an Administrative Review of the Accommodation Review Process for the small rural school.
An information packet sent to the ministry outlines numerous aspects of the review the community brought into question, including cost figures related to repairs and upgrades needed to make the school fully accessible, student enrolment numbers as well as the timing of the CHS Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) process and construction of a new wing at Port Perry High School, which several members of the Blackstock community have speculated was to absorb the influx of CHS students.
A series of public ARC meetings in 2012 became heated as CHS supporters and DDSB staff debated such items.
Scugog resident Therese Eccleston, one of the many CHS supporters that countered the figures and rationale provided by the DDSB, said that the process now moves to the board, who have 30 days to respond to the request.
The board's response will then be sent to the province, which will consider both sides' views before deciding whether to send the matter to a facilitator, who will determine whether the DDSB followed the proper process.
"We need to prove the DDSB didn't follow procedure (through the review)," said Ms. Eccleston. "We truly believe that it shouldn't have happened, but also that if the process had been followed properly, it could have had a different outcome."
In February, trustees voted 10-1 in favour of a staff recommendation to close the school this June and amalgamate the student body with Port Perry High School in September. Scugog trustee Carolyn Morton was the lone holdout, submitting a motion (later defeated) to defer the decision for one year to allow trustees time to consider other options for the school's future, such as an agriculture-based curriculum with e-learning options, as proposed by representatives from Scugog Council.
While she declined to comment on the specific arguments described within the appeal, Ms. Morton said that she understands the community's motivation in challenging the decision, which she said was preceded by an "uncomfortable" ARC process for all involved. In the meantime, the trustee added that work continues on a transitioning plan for CHS students who are slated to begin attendance at PPHS in September.
"I completely understand the community," said Ms. Morton. "This was such an emotional issue - the school is such an important factor within the Blackstock community. However, we have to respect the ultimate decision of the Ministry of Education."
DDSB Chair and Uxbridge/Brock trustee Joe Allin said that board staff are already crafting a response to the appeal, adding that in his opinion, many of the arguments made by the community against the board in the appeal "have already been raised in previous discussions." Mr. Allin explained that in five previous ARC processes throughout Durham, this will be the first in which a formal appeal has been launched regarding a school's closure.
"Board staff are already in the process of responding (to the community appeal) and their work will be reviewed and likely supported by the DDSB," said Mr. Allin, adding that he is unable to comment on any specific details in the board response. "Staff will be able to respond competently to the concerns raised in the appeal.... In our experience (with the ARC process for other schools), we've not had any group pursue the matter through a formal appeal. However, we respect the process, including the right to appeal, and we're confident that in the end, we'll get it right."
The community's report was also recently presented by Durham MPP John O'Toole to Education Minister Liz Sandals in Queen's Park, urging the minister to review the ARC process. At the very least, Mr. O'Toole has asked for a delay of one year in considering the school's fate, allowing for the exploration of the other options put forward by local residents.
"Some citizens are concerned that the Accommodation Review Committee was not using the best facts and figures about topics such as student outcomes, teacher allocations, the condition of the building and its systems, and enrolment projections," Mr. O'Toole said. "A review of the information available to the Accommodation Review Committee would ensure the school board hasn't made the wrong decision on Cartwright."
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SCUGOG: An aquatic 'report card' for local waterbodies issued by Kawartha Conservation this month gives Lake Scugog a passing C grade, an outcome local environmentalists found hardly surprising.
And while other lakes in the watershed - including Pigeon, Sturgeon, Cameron received B grades in the report, other aspects of the watershed, such as wetlands and forest conditions, received a mixed bag of grades.
The new watershed report card released by Kawartha Conservation Authority 'highlights the need for actions to help improve the environmental health of Lake Scugog, and the surrounding lands that drain to the lake,' according to a release from the organization. The report card was among dozens released by conservation authorities across Ontario this month, as part of Canada Water Week (March 18 to 24).
Kawartha Conservation based the grades on 'key environmental indicators,' including surface water quality, groundwater quality, wetland conditions, and forest conditions - natural features monitored regularly to assess conditions, identify environmental changes, and target restoration and protection efforts.
According to Kawartha Conservation, the grade for Lake Scugog was based on the amount of phosphorus in the water - commonly found in fertilizers, sewage, detergents and soil from erosion - an element associated with weed and algae growth. The study also analyzed aquatic insect life as an indicator of general lake health.
The result was not a surprise for local environmental group the Scugog Lake Stewards.
"I don't think this grade from KRCA will be a surprise to anyone in the community, especially the Lake Stewards," said president Barb Karthein, who attributed the lake's current condition to a number of factors, including "relative drought conditions, heat and consequent lack of water flow-through.
"We have to realize that it will take time to remediate the historic levels of this nutrient, even with the actions taken by Kawartha Conservation, the Township of Scugog, the Region of Durham and the Stewards."
In regards to the lake's current state, Ms. Karthein outlined the role of invasive weeds.
"To the list of factors given for the excess phosphorus levels, we would add the recycling of nutrients from the composting of the lake's overwhelming water milfoil weed population," said Ms. Karthein. "Reducing this horribly invasive, non-native plant is very high on the Lake Stewards' list of "to do's."
According to the Kawartha Conservation report, the overall grade for the entire watershed was a C.
Kawartha Conservation also found that groundwater quality for Scugog aquifers that have monitoring wells all had low levels of nitrogen and chlorides, resulting in A grades.
However, while most wetlands in the watershed got As and Bs in the report, the Blackstock Creek basin received a C, while Cawkers Creek received an F. Those grades, according to the report, were based on factors such as a wetland's ability to 'improve water quality in lakes and rivers, reduce flooding and flood damage, stopping erosion and keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.'
Forest conditions in the watershed, based on the percentage and type of cover, received a C average.
The Blackstock Creek and Cawkers Creek basins, which drain into Lake Scugog, received Ds for surface water quality, while the Layton River, Nonquon River, and Southern Lake Scugog Tributaries basins got Cs.
"There is room for improvement," said Kawartha Conservation CAO Rob Messervey, "and the grades reinforce the need to continue our collective efforts with Durham Region, the Township of Scugog, and watershed partners. Further land and water stewardship activities, identified in the Lake Scugog Environmental Management Plan, need to be undertaken to improve the grades."
The 2013 Kawartha Watershed Report Card is available on-line at www.KawarthaConservation.com/reportcard.
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UXBRIDGE: Councillors lashed out at individuals responsible for recent vandalism at the new skate park this week, during a presentation detailing the landscape design for the site.
Amanda Ferraro, the township's Manager of Recreation, Culture and Tourism appeared before council alongside landscape designer Adrian Giacca to detail the landscape features expected to be installed at the skate park later this year, when talk shifted to recent vandalism at the park.
Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet began things by expressing a desire for additional pathways to reach the park.
"I'd hate to see it landscaped and kids create dirt paths to the park. Because, they are going to take the shortest possible route," said Councillor Highet.
Then, after Ms. Ferraro explained that some boards have been removed from the fence to provide easier access to users, Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor engaged in tough talk for would-be vandals.
"I'm very distressed to hear that they're taking down the fence," Mayor O'Connor commented. "We're building a park for them to enjoy, and a lot of time and money has gone into it. And, it's not their fence to take down.
People have worked very hard on the park, and to see this lack of respect is very disheartening. If it doesn't improve, we're in for a very long haul."
Ms. Ferraro then explained that a Skate Park Ambassador program is currently in the works to aid the park through positive reinforcement from other young people.
The Mayor was hopeful that the situation will improve, but also pledged to issue a swift response should such incidents of vandalism continue.
"I have zero tolerance for destruction of property. That is definitely starting off on the wrong foot," said Mayor O'Connor. "If it continues, we'll have to take severe steps, and that's not fair to the majority of kids using the park."
The news of vandalism overshadowed Mr. Giacca's detailed presentation on the landscape design for the site.
"It was our goal to bring an attractive and safe atmosphere to the skate park," explained Mr. Giacca.
He would add that among the features users can expect to see are a shade structure between the parking lot and the park, including picnic tables to allow for shaded viewing of all the action at the park.
As well, there will also be a garden at the site, which will be maintained in partnership with the Uxbridge Horticulture Club.
The pathway leading to the park will contain stones signifying the many donors to the site.
However, Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy felt that more could be done to recognize those who contributed funds towards the project.
"If I was a donor, or a business owner in town, I'd like people driving by to be able to see my name," said Councillor Molloy.
Ms. Ferraro responded by saying that the sign at the road would have to be quite large in order to be readable, and that the Skate Park Committee had previously discussed where donor recognition stones would be most visible.
Mayor O'Connor then added that similar donor displays at the Arena, Legion and Library all are inside, and that the sign at the road will be reserved for the as yet to be determined name for the entire complex, which is also slated to feature a pool in the coming years.
The mayor then pitched a novel idea to combat vandals, and ensure proper respect for property is being displayed.
"When I retire from this job, I'm going to sit up there and watch them," joked Mayor O'Connor. "But, don't hold your breath for my retirement."
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SCUGOG: Scugog's new 'zero tolerance' policy for unacceptable behaviour at municipal facilities received a few more adjustments this week, after staff presented a draft version of the document to councillors.
The policy, previously discussed by councillors last month, is designed to establish a code of ethics for facility users and provide protocol for staff in dealing with a wide range of incidents, including physical and verbal assaults, threats and disrespectful acts.
Work began on the policy following a Feb. 19 assault on a hockey ref at the Scugog Arena. In that incident, a verbal exchange between the referee and two parents of Port Perry players began inside the arena, regarding calls made by the ref during the game. Police said that one parent later threatened the ref and kicked his legs in the parking lot. The assault took place in front of several people, including children, said police. One parent was charged while the ref and the second parent were later suspended for their roles in the incident.
The draft policy details a number of behaviours deemed unacceptable by the township, along with a response protocol for facility staff to follow in such incidents, beginning with a verbal warning and escalating to police involvement if necessary.
In addition to any possible police charges, consequences for offenders may include suspension from all municipal facilities and programs, at staff's discretion, of at least one month.
Appeals to the policy's consequences will require individuals to pay a non-refundable fee of $200, which Recreation and Culture Manager Craig Belfry said was in line with other municipalities that have enacted such policies.
"Once police are involved and there are criminal charges, it's taken to a whole different level," said Mr. Belfry, adding that the policy does not currently account for a suspended individual's re-entry into municipal facilities.
Community Service Director Don Gordon said that the final version of the policy will take into account facilities such as the Scugog Memorial Public Library and the township's numerous soccer fields and baseball diamonds.
The policy, which will now go before user groups for comment, is yet to receive input from the Durham Region Police Service, as well as from the township's legal counsel.
While councillors were generally appreciative of the draft policy, a number of changes were proposed, such as mandatory reports in all incidents, the inclusion of bullying and swearing on the list of unacceptable behaviours and immediate police notification in any criminal incidents, a caveat which Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier said may help prevent the escalation of incidents.
"When I read this, it sounds like it may cause staff to do something that maybe someone else should be doing," said the mayor. "It will stop violence. I'm concerned that someone may be trying to be a good employee by doing something they shouldn't."
The mayor added that any incidents involving young offenders will also require additional rules requiring staff to contact parents or guardians to pick up youth ejected from facilities.
"I think it's a good draft – but it's very complicated in the legal world because people have rights and liberties," said the mayor, adding that scenarios such as attendance at public meetings arranged by the municipality may be among the exemptions from the policy's consequences.
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UXBRIDGE: It's not just flowers that will come into bloom this spring, as a number of retailers are prepping to move into downtown Uxbridge.
Teddy's Organic Market plans for a soft opening on Tuesday, April 16 at the corner of Main St. and Brock St., where Pharmasave was recently located.
The store will serve as an extension of Zephyr Organics, a farm owned and operated over three generations by former Ward 2 Councillor Ted Eng.
For the past 23 years, Zephyr Organics has been at the forefront of organicly grown produce, and the store serves to strengthen the bond between the farm and the table.
According to Mr. Eng, the farm will provide a significant portion of the 200 produce items available in the store, with the rest imported from other parts of Canada and overseas.
Beyond produce, Teddy's Organic Market will also feature a wide assortment of organic products including milk, eggs, cheese, butter and meats.
As well, the market will also feature a mini restaurant offering a juice bar, organic soups and sandwiches.
The closest store of a similar nature is located in Newmarket, so Mr. Eng is hopeful that his new store will offer residents the opportunity to enjoy organic produce, while also shopping local.
Also, residents looking to beat the heat can now do so at a new gelato shop - A Perfect Scoop - located in Rogers' former location on the north side of Brock St.
As well, floral shop Branching Out is doing just that by moving into the space formerly occupied by La Petite Fleur.
Branching Out has now completed the North Durham trifecta, as they currently operate locations in both Port Perry and Cannington.
Further up Brock St., The Dollar Store and Beyond will be opening shortly in the former IGA/Sears building on the corner of Toronto St. North and Brock St.
Council approved a sign for the business at the their meeting on the morning of Monday, March 15, with the lone change being the addition of wood trim in keeping with the heritage feel of the downtown area.
Additionally, the Sue Sue Boutique will be relocating soon to the space above the Tin Cup Cafe at the corner of Church St. and Brock St. that was once the home of Sammy's Pizza, and most recently was occupied by Strawberry Threads.
The new openings come on the heels of a rejuvenation of Uxbridge's downtown that has seen a number of retailers, such as Edward Jones and Low's Furniture, make wide-spread improvements and renovations.
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SCUGOG: Local drivers travelling along the Simcoe St. corridor between Durham's northern and southern municipalities will have to remember to fill up closer to home this spring, as work on a rural gas station has hit a roadblock.
Last March, the Esso station located at 10550 Simcoe St. (at the Old Simcoe Rd. intersection) suddenly closed its doors, with yellow caution tape in place of fuel pumps. The lot, which still contains the building that housed the station's store, saw the removal of fuel tanks last spring and has since become an occasional parking spot for trucks.
According to Tom McMillan, a spokesperson for Parkland Fuel Corporation, attempts to sell the property to potential gas station operators have so far been unsuccessful. He explained that the station was originally shut down by Parkland after an economic analysis of the location deemed the station to be "not profitable" enough to warrant its continued operation.
While Parkland is continuing in its search for a potential buyer, Mr. McMillan said that it's too early to tell whether another gas station will open at the site.
Rural gas stations along that stretch of road are few and far between.
The Esso gas station was the only one on Simcoe St. between the Hwy. 7A intersection in Port Perry - home to three service stations, including another Esso - and the north end of Oshawa, where another gas station is located next to the Durham College/UOIT campus.
North of Hwy. 7A in Port Perry (which boasts a cluster of three stations), northbound drivers on Simcoe St. in need of fuel have to fill up at the Ultramar, located at the Beech St. intersection, before reaching the next set of pumps in Manilla.
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UXBRIDGE: What's in a name?
It may be a way to raise funds to boost township coffers independent of taxpayers according to Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle, after the question was raised by the President of the Uxbridge Youth Baseball Association at council's meeting on Monday, April 15.
In a letter to council, UYBA President Ian Weir requested that the Arena Diamond be renamed to Quaker Field.
"Renaming the diamond will be beneficial for both our House League and our Select teams," Mr. Weir said in his letter. "The existing name evokes an image of a diamond next to the Arena, and is of secondary importance. The name Quaker Field is a strong name which reflects the character of the diamond."
The move got immediate support from members of council praising the selection of the name in proximity to nearby Quaker Village subdivision, Quaker Village Public School and Quaker Hill, as well as invoking Uxbridge's heritage.
"It think it's a great idea," said Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy. "It really identifies where the diamond is, and differentiates it from the arena and its a perfect fit with the name of other things close by."
However, the new moniker may not be taking the field in time for the UYBA's Opening Day House League Tournament on Saturday, June 1 after speculation arose about the naming process for the Kennedy House lands, located at the corner of Ball Rd. and Main St. N.
The Kennedy House lands - which also once housed St. John Training School - are already home to the township's soccer fields and newly constructed skate park and are slated to be home to the proposed Aquatic Centre, tentatively scheduled to open in 2015 or 2016. As the township's current, and future, home to recreation facilities, a committee is currently working towards narrowing down a list of possible names for the sprawling facility that better reflects Uxbridge's character.
With that in mind, Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet cautioned councillors against making a decision prior to hearing the submissions from the Kennedy House renaming committee, and avoid the possibility of 'doubling up' on a name.
"We are currently in the process of renaming Kennedy House. By renaming this diamond, could we potentially be creating confusion in the future?" asked Councillor Highet.
The discussion prompted Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle to raise the possibility of sponsorship, which would serve as a means of boosting township coffers through sponsorship of township recreation facilities to companies and organizations.
Councillor Mantle has been a vocal proponent of the benefits of partnerships with the private sector as a way of offsetting the cost of building recreation infrastructure within the community.
"It doesn't have to corporate naming rights. We've had a splash pad and a skate park built through partnerships with the Bonner Boys and the Rotary Club respectively," added Councillor Mantle. "That's been the approach taken in my time with the Skate Park Committee since day one and a great partnership with the Rotary Club made that project happen, and it serves as a great example going forward of the mutual benefit of naming rights."
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SCUGOG: A well-attended presentation on property tax rates for Scugog Island property owners this week failed to spur local councillors into actions requested by the speaker, including a rezoning of the ward from residential to farmland based on what was deemed an unfair tax rate for constituents.
Scugog Island resident Don Kett, of the Islanders Tax Relief Action Committee, appeared before council this past Monday evening (April 15), outlining the concerns of his neighbours over the amount paid in annual property taxes versus the amenities and services provided to the area. Mr. Kett, who ran unsuccessfully for the Ward 3 council seat in the 2010 municipal election, requested Councillor Jim Howard, who represents the Island, to make a motion that would bring about a proposed zoning change – from residential to farmland – that Mr. Kett believed would result in a reduced tax rate for the community, citing a precedent set by the City of Kawartha Lakes in a similar scenario.
The motion did not materialize, however, with another put forth by Councillor Howard – to create a committee to look into taxation issues from a township-wide perspective – defeated by a lack of support from fellow councillors. A similar motion put forth by Ward 1 Councillor Larry Corrigan, to establish a committee to examine the Island tax issue with the assistance of municipal staff, was also grounded.
In his presentation, which followed a March meeting for Island residents on the same issues, Mr. Kett outlined the concerns of the community, among them a lack of natural gas connections for Island residences, the presence of only one access road, and the absence of such amenities as streetlights, sidewalks and indoor recreation facilities present in other Scugog communities.
"For the extra taxes that we pay," said Mr. Kett, "we get substandard roads and we have no sidewalks on the island…. There are families that have been on the island since confederation. It seems to be a place where you go and stay."
In addition to the proposed rezoning, Mr. Kett also suggested the township redirect funding from sources such as the annual contribution of gaming revenue from the Great Blue Heron Charity Casino, one suggestion among many met with criticism from councillors.
Ward 5 Councillor and Finance Committee chair Howard Danson took exception to the proposed rezoning as a tax reduction measure, questioning the viability of such a suggestion as well as outlining the role of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) in determining taxes through property values.
"Zoning is something else," said Councillor Danson. "You haven't mentioned MPAC at all – what do you think they're reaction would be to having something classed what it isn't? Who would pick up the slack if we redirected funding from gas tax and the casino?"
Mayor Chuck Mercier balked at the suggestion to divide the township's many communities into separate tax categories, stating that other neighbourhoods should not bear the burden for perceived under-servicing.
"We have to be fair," said the mayor. "You want a discount while others have to pay more, which isn't good. You're asking for a discounted rate that everyone else in the township would have to pay for. The Island is not under-privileged - that's why people live there. Scugog's real estate values go up every year because this is a premium place to live and as a result, one of our biggest issues is our young people not being able to afford to live here."
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NORTH DURHAM: There are just a few weeks left until Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham Region (BBBSND) rolls out one of its largest fundraisers of the year.
The annual Bowl For Kids Sake event will be held on Saturday, April 27, at Parish Lanes, located at 69 Brock St. West in downtown Uxbridge.
Teams of four to six players can book two games of bowling free with the submission of pledge forms, and compete to win various prizes and awards.
The exciting event returns to North Durham this year after an unfortunate cancellation last year due to unforeseeable circumstances that required Uxbridge Bowl to close its doors.
Ms. Ayres added that the group hopes to have 100 teams taking part in the event as Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
All of the funds raised through Bowl For Kids Sake go back into the North Durham agency, and allows the agency to continue to provide the mentorship programs that they have been providing to the communities of Scugog, Uxbridge and Brock over the past 36 years.
On Monday, April 15, Ms. Ayres made a presentation to Scugog Councillors, providing an update on the bowling event in the lead-up to National Volunteer Week, which takes place between April 21 and April 27.
National Volunteer Week is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, and since its humble beginnings in 1943, has grown into the largest national celebration of civic participation in Canada. Throughout the week, local volunteer centres across the country will be hosting activities of volunteer recognition and celebration of those who keep communities vibrant places to live and play.
For more information on Bowl For Kids Sake, or to inquire about becoming a mentor, please call 905-985-3733, or visit www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/northdurham.
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SCUGOG: Approximately 200 homes in Blackstock were without heat for almost two days, after gas was shut off following a car accident which ruptured an Enbridge line in the local community south of Hwy. 7A.
According to residents, a car travelling along Regional Rd. 57 last Tuesday evening (April 9) left the roadway and hit a gas line, causing a leak. Emergency services responded to the collision, which was later attended by Enbridge representatives to determine the extent of the leak.
According to Enbridge spokesperson Chris Meyer, approximately 200 homes in the community were affected by the incident, with gas restored to the vast majority of homes within 48 hours of the shutoff.
She said that following an assessment of the gas line, a decision was made to shut off gas to nearby homes to complete the necessary repairs.
The time-consuming process, said Ms. Meyer, involved Enbridge crews going door-to-door before and after the repairs were completed, first to shut off residential gas metres and then to re-ignite pilot lights on appliances, such as hot water tanks, following the fix.
"We realize it's an inconvenience not to have heat or hot water," said Ms. Meyer, "however, we got out as quickly as we could and we apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused."
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UXBRIDGE: An upcoming road improvement project prompted council to lower the speed limit on a picturesque stretch of a township road at their meeting on the morning of Monday, April 15.
A report from Public Works Director Ben Kester prompted the move to lower the speed limit on Conc. 7 south of Regional Rd. 21.
According to Mr. Kester's report, Conc. 7 is slated to be surface treated later this spring, making the lowering of the speed limit necessary as there are a number of sharp bends in the roadway.
However, the move to upgrade the road prompted one councillor to hypothesize that the measure may make the road safer for local travellers.
"Wouldn't a surface treatment make the road be more safe?" asked Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle.
Mr. Kester replied that he "does not take these measures lightly" and added that the unique features of the road may pose a danger to vehicles travelling above the speed limit.
"If it were a straight road, surface treatment might make it safer, but there are some major curves along the section of roadway proposed for the speed limit change," replied Mr. Kester.
Ultimately, councillors agreed to lower the speed limit on the 2.2 kilometre stretch of road, and work on the project is slated to begin later this spring.
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NORTH DURHAM: The tragic bombings at last week's Boston Marathon sent shock waves of sorrow throughout the world, and the events particularly hit home for one local resident whose sister was competing in the race.
Gord Humphrey, a retired teacher at Port Perry High School was refereeing a rugby game at the time of the attack, and had no knowledge about the situation until receiving a text message from his sister Linnea Rossitter informing him that she was safe, and out of harm's way.
"I got a text from her saying 'I'm fine, I'm at the bar' before I even knew that anything was going on," Mr. Humphrey told The Standard.
With cell phone service in the Boston area disabled in the aftermath of the attack, Mr. Humphrey was still able to communicate with his sister since both of them own Blackberry handheld devices.
"We were fortunate that we could still communicate with our Blackberries," Mr. Humphrey explained. "While I didn't know the full extent of what had taken place, my mother is quite a news-hound, and she was extremely relieved when I contacted her and said that everyone was alright."
According to Mr. Humphrey, his sister is an excellent triathlete, who has achieved national rankings. As such, she was finished with the race more than a hour before the bomb blasts near the finish line. The terrorist attacks will not deter Ms. Rossitter or her husband, Glenn, from competing in future events, according to Mr. Humphrey.
"They are both in a lot of those types of races - Glenn actually competed in an event in Toronto over the weekend - and they will continue to do so, and I will continue to support them," Mr. Humphrey added. "It's my understanding that the goal of terrorism is to disrupt the activities of people. And the best way to fight back is to continue doing those things that you are passionate about and not be fearful."
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UXBRIDGE: The community is getting set to go fishing once again, with the 11th annual Huck Finn Youth Fishing Day returning this weekend.
This Saturday (April 27), everyone is once again invited out for a great fun-filled day of fishing on Elgin Pond, which will be home to hundreds of Brook trout just waiting to be caught by any participant 15 years of age and under.
The event kicks off with the popular Huck Finn parade. Starting at Elgin Park at 9:30 a.m., all children and parents are encouraged to dress up in their best Huck Finn outfits and decorate their bikes and wagons for the occasion. All parade participants will be entitled to a V.I.P. fishing area after the parade. As well, there are lots of special prizes for those participating in the parade.
Fishing will begin at 10 a.m. and run until 1 p.m.
If you can't make the parade, there are still plenty of fantastic prizes to be had, in addition to a guaranteed fun-filled day of fishing on the shores of Elgin Pond just bring your equipment, and organizers will provide bait to all registered participants.
To register, pick up your ribbon ahead of time at any of the following locations: Uxpool, Uxbridge Legion, Presents, Presents, Blue Heron Books and Canadian Tire. You can also get them at the Pond on the day of the event. If you don't have any gear the Pickering Rod and Gun Club will be pleased to lend it to anyone aged 15 and under.
The event, sponsored by Canadian Tire, is supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Uxbridge Township, the Royal Canadian Legion, the Optimist Club, the Pickering Rod and Gun Club, the OFAH, Zone "G", the Uxbridge B.I.A. as well as the Durham Region Police.
Since its humble beginnings in 2002, Uxbridge's Huck Finn Fishing Day has grown into the largest family fishing day in Ontario, with thousands of particpants on hand for the annual event.
Main St. will be closed between Reach/Mill St. and Elgin Park Dr. on the day of the event between 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
For further information, contact Pat Higgins at 905-852-3315 or Amanda Ferraro at 905-852-7831.
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UXBRIDGE: Donors to the recent Cenotaph refurbishment were honoured by the Township of Uxbridge in a special ceremony on Monday, April 22.
Prior to council's evening meeting, the township recognized the 45 donors to the project, which saw the downtown Cenotaph revitalized and made fully accessible.
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger, who alongside Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse spearheaded the fundraising efforts for the project, began the evening with a brief history of the Cenotaph in Uxbridge as well as the great fundraising spirit of the community, which has been a vital part of Uxbridge for generations.
"The year was 1920. The Great War was over, and the library was there, but there was nothing in front of it," began Councillor Ballinger. "Then, on September 7, a flat car rolled into the Uxbridge Train Station carrying a cannon built in 1902. The Canadian government gave this cannon to the township as a gift, and it was placed in front of the library."
According to Councillor Ballinger, the cannon would sit at the corner of Toronto St. and Brock St. until 1931, when the Independent Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE) approached council with a grand idea.
"The IODE, led by Lt. Col. Sharpe's wife Mabel - the first female council member in Uxbridge's history - wanted to put in a Cenotaph. They came before council and asked for money, and were given $500. From there they went to the residents and raised the rest of the funds to put in the Cenotaph that you see today, with a base made out of granite from Quebec and a solider made of Italian marble," added Councillor Ballinger.
The Cenotaph honours the members of the 116th Battalion, headquartered in Uxbridge, and the 17 men who paid the ultimate price for freedom.
"After all that time, the Cenotaph started to look bedraggled, and the township applied for a government grant for refurbishment with a maximum amount of $25,000, which we were awarded," said Councillor Ballinger.
Faced with a tight timeline - the money had to be used by December 2012, as well as impending Remembrance Day ceremonies - Councillors Ballinger and Mikuse got to work fundraising for the project.
With the effort of many dedicated members of the community, the project was able to be finished on time, and is now fully accessible for all residents.
"Before, it was on a grassy hill and very hard for veterans to get up, and you couldn't get around to the back of the monument," said Councillor Ballinger. "Now, if you are walking the streets of Uxbridge, take the time to look around the monument and read the names. And, I would like to say thank you to all of those who contributed to get our Cenotaph back to where it belongs."
Councillor Mikuse also took time to thank the many donors to the project for their commitment to the legacy of those local residents who gave their lives for the freedoms we continue to enjoy today.
"This was a very special project and we thank you very much for your contributions," added Councillor Mikuse.
The cannon originally gifted to Uxbridge by the government in 1920 continues to be showcased in the community, and can be seen on the shores of Elgin Pond in Veteran's Memorial Park.
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UXBRIDGE: Later this year, Uxbridge Secondary School will be hosting a party that's been 90 years in the making.
Several events have been planned between Friday, June 21 and Sunday, June 23 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Uxbridge Secondary School.
Since October 2011, a committee made up of former staff and students, as well as current staff has been meeting monthly in preparation for the celebration in the hopes of providing a memorable experience to all former students at USS.
The official kick-off for the event occurs with opening ceremonies, which will be held in the USS gym on Saturday, June 22 at 10:30 a.m.
"We are planning to showcase current student talent at the opening ceremonies," said Peter Morris, a former teacher and principal at USS, currently serving as Chair of the Reunion Committee, to The Standard. "We plan to have dance, drama and bands perform as well as unveiling our athletes of the decade and our Athletic Wall of Fame."
Events continue during the day on Saturday with a staff luncheon and golf tournament.
On Saturday night, there will be a pub night at Uxbridge Arena, with organizers expecting almost 2,000 people to attend. Those interested in attending the Pub Night as well as other 90th anniversary events will have to pre-register at www.USS90.com and purchase tickets in advance in order to avoid disappointment.
"In 1998 at the 75th anniversary, we had people coming to the door buying tickets, and we ended up exceeding capacity," explained Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger, who also sits on the reunion committee.
"So we put in a control that you have to pre-register to attend. We've had people register from as far away as Australia and British Columbia and over 2,000 people are expected to attend."
The dance will be split into two areas - the vacant ice pad and the Arena Hall - in order to provide a comfortable experience for all in attendance.
"The committee has learned from past experiences, and the reason for the two rooms, is that the Arena can be very loud with the music playing. So, the other side will be more of a quiet room where people can catch up with former acquaintances without having to raise their voice," explained Mr. Ballinger.
Sunday will see many more events around town to commemorate USS' 90th anniversary, including a pancake breakfast at the Legion, family events at Elgin Park and sports in the school's gym.
The Committee has crafted a web site, www.USS90.com, which to date has been visited more than 20,000 times.
With so many visitors travelling from great distances to attend the event, Councillor Ballinger expects a great turnout for the event, and great stories from former classmates.
"It will be a great opportunity to meet some people you haven't seen in awhile. For instance, one of the gentlemen registered on the site is a former classmate of mine now working as a women's wrestling manager in the United States," said Councillor Ballinger.
"And, this is a guy who originally came from a chicken farm outside of Uxbridge. I expect a lot more stories like that to come out of the weekend. It'll be a great time and hopefully we have a lot of former students come and share in a great experience."
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SCUGOG: Scugog's full-time firefighters and Chief Richard Miller remain in talks over recent changes to the department's response model, stemming from the new four-day work week for full-timers implemented this week.
Firefighter Clint Walker, president of the Scugog Professional Firefighters Association IAFF Local 4679 representing the department's full-time personnel, said that "a number of solutions" have been presented to the chief to remedy what the full-time firefighter described as the potential for delayed responses in the return to an all-call paging model, in which volunteers are called to every emergency. The system, which the department used until the hiring of Scugog's third full-time firefighter in 2007, was reinstated Monday (April 29) as the department's full time staff moved to a four-day schedule working from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with only one or two days during the week where all three full-timers work together. The four-day schedule was part of an arbitration award to full-time firefighters announced in February, which also included a pay increase of more than 26 per cent retroactive to 2009.
The reason for the return to the all-call model, said Chief Miller in a recent report to Scugog Council, is to ensure all responses, no matter the time, are covered by an adequate number of firefighters. He added in his report that he doesn't expect response times to be affected due to the schedule change. Chief Miller said at a recent council meeting that an organizational review of the department is also in the works.
While Mr. Walker declined to detail his proposed solutions due to the ongoing discussions, he said that he is concerned that response times will be affected if full time staff are required to wait for a sufficient number of volunteers before responding to emergencies.
"The problem is that during the day," said Mr. Walker, "you don't know how many volunteers you're going to get. They have other responsibilities like family and jobs. We (full time firefighters) were hired to guarantee response and responses will be hindered (if we are required to wait for enough volunteers)."
Mr. Walker said that numbers quoted in the Chief's report could also be misleading if taken strictly at face value. Although the report states that last year, full-timers responded to 57 calls on their own, Mr. Walker added that full-timers "still respond to 100 per cent of calls during our shift."
And while he raised concerns that news of the arbitration award may bring criticism from residents, particularly in regards to wage increases, he has received no negative feedback.
"We're in a small town and we all grew up here and we like to think we have a job to be proud of," said Mr. Walker.
"People in the community seem to understand and we haven't heard anything negative."
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SCUGOG: Scugog's fire department has now visited all homes in the township at least once to check for smoke detectors in the Alarmed For Life program, one of several highlights for the department noted by Chief Richard Miller in his 2012 year-end report.
The document was recently presented to councillors, synopsizing the department's activities for 2012.
In the Alarmed For Life program last year, firefighters visited 1,780 Scugog homes, with 512 of those homes already having working smoke detectors and 167 devices installed at other residences. Firefighters will continue to visit homes within the township to ensure compliance from local residents.
The chief also noted two large fires in early 2012 resulted in more than $350,000 in damage, as well as several lightning strikes causing a total loss of $10,000. However, Chief Miller noted that the number of overall incidents, as well as the number of 'significant/major' responses, decreased in 2012 from the previous year.
In his report to council, the chief stated that firefighters from Port Perry and Caesarea stations responded to a total of 677 calls, with an average response time of just over 10 minutes. The majority of those calls, noted the chief, were in the 'other' category, consisting of cancelled calls, incidents that were not found or assists to other agencies such as police or EMS, the latter of which made up the bulk of those responses.
The department also recently received its long-awaited Fire Safety House training facility, unveiled to the public in a ceremony earlier this month. The safety house will help educate local residents on fire safety and prevention within the home, with an opportunity to loan the equipment out to other municipalities and organizations.
Chief Miller also recognized a number of service milestones reached by fire personnel in 2012, including Captain Todd Soomre (20 years), Captain Ryan Edgar (15 years), firefighter Clint Walker (20 years) and Lieutenant Al Peck (10 years).
During the discussion, Chief Miller told councillors that a review of the department's services will be conducted this year, with a master fire plan due in 2015.
In the wake of a tragic Easter weekend housefire that claimed four lives in East Gwillimbury, Ward 1 Councilllor Larry Corrigan questioned the chief on whether "there are any lessons to be learned" in regards to the department's average response time to incidents.
However, pending a final assessment of that incident from the Fire Marshal's Office, Chief Miller declined to provide much in the way of comment, offering that mutual aid agreements with neighbouring municipalities such as Uxbridge assist the department in achieving its response time goals.
"We use mutual aid to cover our municipality when all of our vehicles are out," said the chief, adding that "we will then call Uxbridge or Clarington to cover" in such an event.
"The Fire Marshal hasn't finished his review (of the East Gwillimbury incident), and until then, we're speaking in the dark," continued Chief Miller. "It wouldn't be right to comment because we have no idea of how the call was received."
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SCUGOG: Firefighters from Port Perry and Caesarea will once again be taking fundraising to new heights this month, as the second annual Rooftop Campout returns to Port Perry on Victoria Day weekend.
The event, running from 7 p.m. on Friday, May 17 until 7 p.m. on Monday, May 20, will see local firefighters take to the roof of Harp and Wylie's restaurant on Water St. for the long weekend, all in the name of raising money in support of Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
Plenty of activities are scheduled for those remaining on the ground in Palmer Park, including a jumping castle for kids, a dunk tank for the adults, plenty of music and the department's new Fire Safety House, unveiled recently in Port Perry.
According to firefighter Steve Langenhuzien during a recent council meeting, last year's event raised more than $12,000 for the charity.
"We want to make this an annual event," said Mr. Langenhuzien, adding that Scugog is just one of 600 fire departments across Ontario raising money for this cause. "This is completely voluntary – no one is being paid to do this."
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DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Playground equipment was badly damaged during a weekend vandalism incident in the Testa Heights area of Uxbridge.
According to Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis, damage from the incident - which included a playground slide badly melted due to fire - is between $7,000 and $8,000.
Councillors were split on how to remedy the situation at their meeting on the morning of Monday, May 6.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor first motioned not to replace the damaged pieces of playground equipment this year, citing increased insurance costs.
"A substantial piece of the equipment is still there, and every time we make an insurance claim, our insurance goes up. Furthermore, our deductible is almost as much as the equipment costs to replace," explained Mayor O'Connor.
However, not all members of council agreed with the mayor's sentiments, as they thought not replacing the equipment would be unfairly penalizing the community at large.
"We need to be proactive and get after the culprits, not penalize the residents who regularly use this equipment," added Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet.
Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle sided with Councillor Highet, and proposed that funding to replace the equipment come from the municipality's Future Capital Reserve as a way of circumventing a possibly costly insurance claim.
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger also spoke up in favour of replacing the
"We have to replace that. Just like with graffiti, if you leave it there, it goes
up all over," said Councillor Ballinger. "It looks bad for the town, and I don't
want kids to see something that's been burned. I also don't want those responsible
to be able to walk by and look at it and get satisfaction from it."
Public Works Director Ben Kester later clarified that the damaged equipment had been removed by township staff over the weekend.
After Mayor O'Connor's motion not to replace the equipment in 2013 was defeated, she closed the discussion by taking aim at those ultimately responsible for the vandals.
"I don't blame the kids as much as I blame the parents," added Mayor O'Connor. "Where are the parents in all of this? These incidents are not happening at 10 p.m. after all, they are happening much later in the night."
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NORTH DURHAM: More action must be taken by the province in combating issues such as youth unemployment and looming job losses from changes to Ontario's gaming industry, said Durham MPP John O'Toole following a recent discussion of the 2013 Ontario budget.
The veteran MPP hosted a pair of post-budget discussions - one in Bowmanville and another in Port Perry - in his riding last Friday (May 3), dissecting the various proposals and potential impacts contained within the document. This was the first budget under Premier Kathleen Wynne, presented at Queen's Park by Finance Minister Charles Sousa on May 2, amidst the controversy of the growing costs in the cancellation of two gas power plants in Oakville and Mississauga.
The budget, deemed a "non-event" by local financial advisor Brian Callery (who accompanied Mr. O'Toole at the presentation) contained a number of measures which, like many in the province, Mr. O'Toole chalked up to being aimed squarely at the NDP to garner support for the minority government and avoid an election, including a guarantee of five days of homecare for house-bound Ontarians, a proposed 15 per cent reduction to car insurance rates, and $295 million toward the creation of a youth job strategy, the latter two criticized by Mr. O'Toole as "lacking framework" in terms of when and how the programs would be implemented.
"There's no plan in the youth job initiative," said Mr. O'Toole. "We need to look beyond and toward what the jobs of the future are."
For Mr. O'Toole, the main issues in the province stem from a continued move "from taxing income to taxing consumption" through programs such as the HST, as well as continued spending that exceeds provincial revenues.
"We've reached a point where we are going to have to ask some serious questions (about the province's spending programs)," said Mr. O'Toole. "We're going to need more accountability before taking in more revenue."
While the budget contains provisions aimed at small municipalities such as a 'dedicated fund' toward the expansion of rural infrastructure, Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier assessed the budget from the municipal perspective as containing "lots of unknowns," with more attention needed toward decreasing Ontario's deficit, currently assessed at $11.7 billion.
"I was hoping to see longer-term restraint," said the mayor. "The deficit is not helping any of us. We have huge issues in this province and it should be about trying to think beyond the budget and tackling the deficit."
Locally, Mr. O'Toole said that keeping jobs in the riding is his top concern, through programs like the youth employment strategy and also through retaining existing
positions. In regards to the last point, he said that the province must look at keeping the Great Blue Heron Charity Casino viable in light of changes at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG), including proposals to build a new casino in Toronto.
"For this community," he said, "any job losses at this casino would be devastating and we need to demand a solution."
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SCUGOG: As Cartwright High School prepares to close its doors for the last time at the end of this schoolyear, the school community will mark the many decades of
academics with a ceremony on May 24.
With the facility's closure pending for June, the event will serve to celebrate the many years that the school has served local families.
The open house event begins at 1:15 p.m. that day, with visits to the schools various classrooms while students continue their work.
Decade rooms, commemorating the many eras of CHS, will open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. with various displays and school memorabilia. Lunch will be provided.
The event is being organized by several members of the CHS community, including former music teacher John Beirness.
Mr. Beirness and several other organizers recently opened the building's attic to pull out some of the memorabilia to be displayed on May 24, including photos, uniforms and even notebooks of former students preserved in the building, some dating back to the 1930s.
"There's everything from thousands of photos to yearbooks and everything in between," said Mr. Beirness of the items, many of which bear familiar names and faces of former students. "We have 88 years of memories here to display while we catch up and reminisce."
The event is an informal open house, and will allow guests to "take in as much as they want," said Mr. Beirness.
Like many who attended or taught at the school, many of Mr. Beirness' fond memories of Cartwright are tied to the sense of close-knit community that came with a small student body.
"It was all about being a part of the community," said Mr. Beirness, who taught at the school from 1989 to 2007. "You weren't just a teacher or a student, you were part of a bigger family and you got to know everyone else. We worked together to make the school a success. It was a very unique experience."
The community is also being asked to get involved with the celebration.
Photos and memories of the school are being compiled by former student Lindsay Evanoff, who will then arrange those elements into a series of digital slide shows for guests to watch during the celebration. Anyone wishing to contribute photos
and memories can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (please include name and decade attending CHS in the e-mail subject line).
Photos can be scans or originals, which will be returned afterward.
"We want to make this as personal as possible for visitors," said Mr. Beirness. "It's sad to see the school closing, but we'll go out on a high note."
For more information, call the school at 905-986-4241.
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SCUGOG: Scugog Council will not revisit the matter of billing for ice rescues before the cold weather returns, after a motion to re-examine the issue was turned down by a narrow margin.
The hot-button issue briefly returned to council chambers this week, after councillors received another letter from Oshawa angler Neil Robbescheuten, in which he requested the township to reconsider the practice. This past January, Mr. Robbescheuten was rescued from Lake Scugog by local firefighters and was subsequently presented an invoice for more than $5,400, as per a recent council direction for Scugog firefighters to request personal information, whenever possible, for billing purposes in ice and water rescues.
Council voted in early March to uphold the bill, citing what several councillors described as a 'lack of personal responsibility' exercised by the angler, who ventured out onto the thinning ice of the lake as temperatures climbed that week.
To date, Mr. Robbescheuten has neither paid the bill nor donated $500 to the Scugog Fire Department in lieu of the fine, as was previously offered by Mayor Chuck Mercier.
In the recent letter, Mr. Robbescheuten outlined several reasons for why he believes the practice should be discontinued, citing 'extenuating circumstances' such as poor weather conditions that arose after he ventured onto the ice, as well as the lack of notice given regarding the billing practice, in which he was the first and to date, only, individual to be invoiced.
Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew, while stating that she would not be in favour of re-examining Mr. Robbescheuten's situation or ice rescue invoicing in general, nonetheless opted to table the motion.
While Mayor Mercier, Ward 2 Councillor John Hancock and Ward 5 Councillor Howard Danson voted to discuss the matter again this week, Councillor Drew, Ward 1 Councillor Larry Corrigan, Ward 3 Councillor Jim Howard and Ward 4 Councillor Wilma Wotten opposed reopening the discussion.
According to council procedure, Mr. Robbescheuten will be informed by letter that the matter will not be discussed for at least six months from the date of this latest council decision, pushing the earliest return of the issue to a mid-November meeting.
During a February council meeting, Scugog Fire Chief Richard Miller outlined the response that took place at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 13, which saw three trucks (with one on standby) and 29 firefighters respond to Mr. Robbecheuten's call.
Firefighters pulled the angler from the mud off of the island's northern shore, after Mr. Robbescheuten, who maintained at the March 4 meeting that ice conditions were "perfect" that day, became disoriented in the incoming fog and wandered toward land, falling through a weak patch of ice and became stuck in the process.
After his rescue, the chief said that Mr. Robbescheuten complied with a request from firefighters for his name and address for billing purposes.
Three days later, he was sent a bill for $5,392.78, covering the costs of trucks and firefighters.
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UXBRIDGE: A new residential development could become a reality in the near-future pending an agreement to bring 1,000 truckloads of fill onto the site.
Prominent local real estate developer Fabio Furlan appeared before council on the morning of Monday, May 13 to outline his plans for the development at the corner of Reach St. and Coral Creek Dr., also known as phase five of the Estates of Avonlea.
"The land is like a soup bowl, and needs 9,000 to 10,000 metres of fill, about 1,000 truckloads to level it out," Mr. Furlan told the members of council.
Tentative plans call for the one-month program to start this summer, and Mr. Furlan has already been in contact with Uxbridge's Brook Acton about supplying clean fill for the project.
Mr. Acton added that details of the project, including the source of the fill, monitoring as well as traffic and truck routing will hopefully be taken care of shortly, adding that they expect between six or seven deliveries per hour, for a total of between 60 and 70 trucks per day.
"We're going to do everything we can to limit the amount of truck traffic," said Mr. Acton.
Wishing to avoid the stagnant state of other developments around Uxbridge, Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet inquired as to how quickly fill will be dealt with once it is brought onto the site.
"It'll be dealt with right away. I want to get started on building infrastructure and getting a draft plan of approval so I can start selling to the public," explained Mr. Furlan.
Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle then asked the pair if they would be paid for fill coming onto the site, and if that meant the project fell into the category of commercial fill operation.
"Yes, we will be paid, but only to cover trucking costs," said Mr. Acton. "We could be bringing gravel from a pit, and it'd be the exact same thing, but this presents a more economical option."
Councillor Mantle and Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger later expressed concern over the amount of trucks considering that there is a school crossing in close proximity to the site.
"I have some concerns about the school crossing. We dealt with similar issues with the co-op project (the since stalled construction of the First Leaside building in downtown Uxbridge) and they didn't go through when the crossings were used in the morning and the afternoon," said Councillor Ballinger.
According to Township Clerk Debbie Leroux, the next step in the development will be a meeting between the township and the developer to finalize the details of an agreement on the project.
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UXBRIDGE: The process to rename the Kennedy House property will now be turned over to the public, following council's meeting on the morning of Monday, May 13.
Despite initial misgivings from councillors regarding the four potential names for the site put forward by the Kennedy House Renaming Committee - Uxbridge Activity Park, Uxbridge Commons, The Fields of Uxbridge and Uxbridge Activity and Recreation Commons (or short form 'The ARC') - councillors voted by a slim margin to adopt the recommendation in a report by Recreation, Tourism and Culture Manager Amanda Ferraro, and turn the matter over to public voting via the township's web site.
Prior to any discussion on the matter, Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet voiced the opinion that since Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor was absent, discussion on the matter should be tabled for the second consecutive meeting in order to have all council members present.
"This is going to be a council decision so all of council should be here," proposed Councillor Highet.
Ultimately, councillors would decide to proceed with discussion, and the possible names were met with criticism from Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy and Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse, who argued that the submissions lacked any historical references to Uxbridge.
"I don't think that we've looked at historical value, and haven't seen any submissions that speak to that," said Councillor Mikuse.
Councillor Molloy also expressed concern that only 19 possible names were submitted. However, Ms. Ferraro clarified that while the committee only received 19 submissions initially, a second round of submissions pushed the total to between 40 and 50 possible choices.
"Quaker was looked at, but the committee thought it would be confusing," added Ms. Ferraro, who noted that the western portion of Uxbridge is already home to Quaker Hill as well as Quaker Village and Quaker Commons.
Later, Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger asked about the inclusion of 'Uxbridge' in every potential name, as it appeared to limit the scope of the choices.
"Why do we have to have to have Uxbridge in there? It makes it tough, why did it come about this way?" inquired Councillor Ballinger.
Ms. Ferraro noted potential corporate sponsorship of facilities at the site as part of the rationale for including 'Uxbridge' in the possible names for the site.
"The committee had a long discussion about that. If you have Uxbridge in the name, it could be confusing," said Ms. Ferraro. "We already have the Rotary Skate Park, and could have the Canadian Tire Aquatic Centre, for instance. And we thought it'd be good to have Uxbridge in the proper name because the facilities might have sponsored names."
However, once the matter of Uxbridge's inclusion in the name was clarified, new reservations were voiced by councillors after it appeared that the guidelines for the naming process had changed without council being notified.
"After we had the first 19 submissions, the CAO (Ingrid Svelnis) joined us and we were directed that the library may end up there so we thought about having culture in the name," explained committee member Brock Clark. "We were guided to have Uxbridge in there and not have a person's name."
Mr. Clark later added that he did suggest using a person's name, but that idea was met with little enthusiasm from other committee members.
Ward 4 Jacob Mantle then proposed widening the pool of possible choices.
"Council set guidelines initially and if those guidelines changed, it should've come back to council," said Councillor Mantle. "Let's see some other names. I like the idea of putting it to a vote, but maybe we can have ten instead of four."
Councillor Molloy would go one step further, and proposed that the public be allowed another opportunity to submit names for the site, which is located at the corner of Main St. North and Ball Rd.
"The names seem clichéd, and I know our community can do better," opined Councillor Molloy. "It's not something that has to be done today, and needs to go back to the public and we need a push to get more submissions with no strings or criteria. This is going to be there for a long time and we need to get it right."
In response, Councillor Highet defended the committee, and the submissions it produced.
"Why have a committee if we're going to override the submissions they came back with? It should be the committee choosing the name, not members of council," said Councillor Highet. "We need to create a name that will be timeless and goes in a new direction. There are a lot of people that have moved to town recently, and have no idea what Kennedy House or former St. John's lands even means."
After a motion from Councillor Molloy to go back to the public for more input was defeated, a motion to approve the four submitted names and post them on the township's web site for public voting was passed with Councillors Ballinger, Highet and Mikuse voting in favour.
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SCUGOG: Scugog staff will consult Durham police in their review of a Port Perry resident's request for traffic calming measures along Old Simcoe Rd., which he said is warranted due to an increasing number of pedestrians living in the Chimney Hill Way neighbourhood, along with an increased amount of vehicles traveling the roadway.
Matthew Schurter appeared before council during a May 13 meeting, with a proposal for the township to investigate possible measures to reduce speeds along the road. He explained that while walking from the subdivision on the west side of Old Simcoe Rd., he and his family, along with other neighbours, often wait for numerous cars to pass before attempting to cross the busy roadway, adding that many of the vehicles appear to be travelling in excess of the posted 50 kilometre speed limit. Currently, there are no traffic controls along Old Simcoe Rd. at any of the intersections between Reach St. and Queen St., where Chimney Hill Way is located.
"Crossing the intersection on foot is important to us to be able to enjoy all of the things that Port Perry has to offer pedestrians," said Mr. Schurter, adding that while "for each barrier to pedestrians, it's one more reason that will prevent people from walking," his main issue is for the safety of those living in the neighbourhood, which includes several younger children, including his own.
The matter had not been taken to Durham police prior to his appearance at council, said Mr. Schurter.
Public Works and Parks Director Ian Roger said that the last study on traffic controls at the intersection was conducted approximately seven years ago, explaining that a stop sign was not warranted then and that little has changed to justify one now. Mr. Roger added that as traffic counts have not increased significantly along Old Simcoe Rd. over recent years, the intersection would possibly be a candidate for a small traffic circle, "balancing the matters of traffic volume and safety," as opposed to measures such as speed bumps or speed humps, found in some neighbourhoods where their purpose is to slow speeds along the length of the entire road as opposed to a single intersection.
While councillors and staff did not make a decision regarding the intersection during the recent meeting, municipal staff have been directed to further investigate the matter and to consult with Durham police in their review of the issue.
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UXBRIDGE: The students at Uxbridge Public School had an out-of-this-world experience last week as they joined in a national sing-a-long with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
The school was celebrating Music Monday on May 6 when they joined with other schools across the country to participate in an on-line sing-a-long broadcast via the internet from the International Space Station.
An avid amateur musician, Hadfield co-wrote the song 'Is Somebody Singing?' with Ed Robertson of The Barenaked Ladies.
The entire student body at UPS gathered in the gymnasium to take part in the event, which was streamed live over the internet.
"It was a wonderful experience, and really turned out well with all of our students, from kindergarten to Grade 8 taking part," UPS Vice Principal Marg Snider-McGrath told The Standard.
"We were thrilled that he was singing from space, and we were singing right along in our gym."
In the lead up to the event, UPS music teachers Lisa West and Carol White had the task of teaching the song to the students, which became infectious amongst the students leading up to Music Monday.
"Every time you walked down the hall, everyone was singing the song, trying to learn it for the big day. Everyone was really into it," added Mrs. Snider-McGrath.
The school's art department also got into the spirit, as Wanda Dickson helped with students as they created a large rocket ship that was displayed in the gym during the event.
Following the intergalactic sing-a-long, an assembly was held at UPS as they celebrated the richness of musical talent within the school.
The school's bands, choirs and drummers all took part in the celebration of music.
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